Monday, June 29, 2015

Trans Am comes to Brainerd early

The Trans Am series will be racing Sunday July 5th in the Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic at Brainerd International Raceway.  This race has traditionally been held over Labor day weekend.

To preview this event, here is an interview we did with Gary Curtis, Director of the Performance driving school at BIR.

This series raced at BIR from 1969 to 1989 but then it just went away.  It was revived and brought back to BIR in 2010 and then acquired by Minnesota veteran driver Jim Derhaag who raced his 151st and final Trans Am event here in 2010.  That first race back saw only 7 cars on track and MN native Tony Ave won by 65 seconds, almost a full lap over 2nd place.

Things have changed for the better over the past 5 years, the race set for this weekend has 41 entries and the Trans Am series now has 3 different divisions all racing together.  12 drivers are entered in the top TA division sporting Corvette bodies and 800 horsepower.

 #23 Amy Ruman from Kent (OH) is the point leader and has won 4 of the 5 races so far in 2015.  She has done well at BIR, she won here in 2012 and finished 2nd last year.  Here is an audio interview we did with Amy Ruman in 2014

 #87 Doug Peterson from Bonita Springs (FL) is a veteran driver who has won the previous two years here at BIR.

 #59 Simon Gregg from Ponte Verde (FL) is the 2012 Trans Am series Champion, but he has not won at BIR.

 #4 Paul Fix from Williamsville (NY) is 2nd in points and he is the only driver other than Ruman to win a race this year.

 #07 Jed Copham is our local Brainerd racer, plus he owns the track.  He does have a shot, nobody has more experience at this track, in 2013 he finished 5th.

 #36 Cliff Ebben from Appleton (WI) has been so close to winning here at BIR, but has come up just short.  He has had some bad luck too, including when he destroyed a car here back in 2011.

Qualifying will be Saturday July 4th at 2:20pm with the 40 lap 100 mile race on Sunday July 5th at 1:50pm, the race usually takes between 60 and 90 minutes to complete.  If the past races are any indication you can expect one or two cautions during the race.

The Brainerd International Raceway competition road course is 13 turns and 2.5 miles, I recommend trying more than one location to watch the action.  You can bring a chair or stand on the bridge, you can see the tightest and slowest corner on the track just past the pit lane and the drivers will race right underneath you.  I also recommend going into the infield and checking out the action on some of the high speed locations.  Bleachers are set up in numerous locations.  The race paddock and pit lane is also open for fans, it is a very active place during pre race and post race festivities.

The track was repaved two years ago, this Spring curbing was put in and the track work is complete.

Single day tickets are only $25 and kids 12 and under are free.  Get more information at or

Modern Trans Am history at BIR:
2010    Tony Ave  (7 cars)
2011    Tony Ave  (12 cars)
            Tony Ave (12 cars)
2012    Tony Ave  (17 cars)
            Amy Ruman (17 cars)
2013    Doug Peterson (23 cars)
2014    Doug Peteson  (29 cars)
2015   ?   (41 cars entered)

For a full recap of the Trans Am action at BIR including interviews with the winners listen to Speed Talk on 1360 Saturday morning 10-11am on or search #BIR on Twitter.

This race will be broadcast on a tape delay on CBS Sports Network at a later date.

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