It might be over a week since the Lucas Oil Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway wrapped up in a thrilling fashion, but that doesn’t mean we are anywhere near recovered. Despite having been to hundreds of races in my life, the Nationals absolutely blew me away in more ways than one. Here are a few takeaways:
The Speed Was incredible
Saturday was a little bit chilly, I noted while standing on the top of the drag tower in a hoodie. But that’s a great thing if you are a race fan. Drag racers love cool air and Saturday put on a speed spectacular with several runs in the 3.6 second range in what was absolutely perfect performance weather.
The Zoo is as-advertised
The Zoo is known around the drag racing world as the place where the party never stops, and boy did it deliver for my first visit. Sitting on a motorized toilet/bath tub combo, lounging in the living room, watching fireworks from a dance party, drinking from an 11,000hp Nitro-Powered Blender, and even throwing wooden pallets onto a massive bonfire. The Zoo isn’t for everyone, but if you are down to have a good time and enjoy life with a bunch of your new best friends, it’s the best spot in the state of Minnesota. It’s worth a visit any year for the people watching alone.
The Track Turned Quickly
The cool breeze of Saturday gave way to a warm and cloudless day on Sunday, which might sound great if you aren’t a racer. The bright Minnesota sun beat down on the track, raising track temperatures to a point where grip started to fall off a cliff. By the second round of eliminations on Sunday 6 to 7 of the 8 top fuel dragsters and funny cars struggled to find grip as pedal-fests became the norm. If you are a drag racing fan, pedal-fests like the show we saw on sunday are the holy grail. It was spectacular.
I Definitely Helped Steve Torrence Win
It’s Saturday night. I’m at the Dance party in The Zoo, near the dunk tank, grabbing light-up foam sticks and handing them out while waiting for the fireworks to start. I notice a familiar face out of the corner of my eyes. There, in the blinding lights and lasers coming off of the DJ booth, is Top Fuel Dragster driver Steve Torrence. I hand him a light up foam stick, and lo and behold the next day he takes a massive victory and collects the wally for his team. Now, I’m not saying I was a crucial piece of his weekend, but you can’t prove he would have won had I not handed that light up foam stick. Does that make me a hero? Yes.
You Have to be there Next Year
Simply put, you have to feel it to believe it. There’s nothing on this earth quite like the bone shaking roar and excitement that high powered drag racing provides. Go once, and you’ll be a fan for life. I guarantee it.