Brainerd International Raceway: The Race In Pictures

Photojournalism: R. A. Fariello | Photography by Gina Graham Fariello

The 5th race of the 2012 NASCAR K&N Pro season was contested at the Brainerd International Raceway. Brainerd is a 2.5 mile road race venue with a long and venerable history of famous racers and races.

BIR is located in the scenic lake region of Minnesota, roughly 125 miles NW of Minneapolis. In addition to “10,000 lakes” the region is covered with both visual and hard references of Paul Bunyan and “Babe the Blue Ox”. Unfortunately, the Brainerd Lakes area was also inundated with the source of those 10,000 lakes; it was rain … and the TMS Team saw 5 to 10 inches of it!  As a direct result of the rain, the race day schedule was altered such that there would be only to 30 minutes of scheduled practice and no Qualifying period.  This decision was made by NASCAR management … and it worked!  The entire race was conducted during a brief “dry slot” which ended roughly 33 minutes after the checkered flag waved.  Congratulations are due NASCAR for their informed and reasoned decision making.

For the TMS #61 car, and Brett Thompson, good luck was not on their side.  Although Brett was happy with the car during practice, the lack of a qualifying session required, by NASCAR rule, that Brett start the race in an 11th place. Early in the race Brett moved into 8th place before problems occurred.  The problem arose coming out of the key hole turn resulting in Brett diving to the pits for a quick diagnosis. Nothing obvious Brett returned to the track only to have the shifter fail resulting in the transmission being stuck in third gear for the rest of the race. Clearly, this was a terminal blow to any chance of a good finish. In the end, Brett Thompson crossed the finish line in13th place.  Given the race circumstances endured by the 61 car, a 13th place finish was a welcome result.

Lakeside at Gull Lake: with a little sunshine, this is obviously a very scenic area

The Brainerd International Raceway is venerable, scenic, and representative of the area

Images of Paul Bunyan and “Babe the blue ox” are also ubiquitous in this region.  Above is an image of the racing version of Babe, replete with “ox number” and “spoiler”, gracing the Management Offices at BIR. It may not look like it but, apparently, Babe needs more rear end down-force!

On Friday afternoon the track held an ‘open’ practice; here the teams unload for that on-track time

Friday’s weather was good; sun gave way to clouds late in the day.  It was all good for open track practice.

A typical scene at Brainerd; green trees and, race cars

Ospreys nesting on the infield light poles, watch the movement below. Every day is a bad hair day for an Osprey.

Saturday Morning of Race Day –  and 2 ½ hours of thunder, lightning and, intense rain greeted the race teams.

As the electrical storms grew worse, NASCAR ordered all team personal into their haulers

Following the rains, NASCAR Race Director Larry Harper meets with team representatives and explains the adjusted, and abbreviated, racing schedule.

The cars quickly line up for NASCAR Tech

Throughout the brief 30 minute NASCAR practice session, the #61 was a good car

At the end of practice, Brett Thompson was 9th quick

Before the race began the critical 90 degree turn #1, located just past the starting line, was badly in need of an ‘oiled track’ cleanup

Broom Wagon is, clearly, loosely defined terminology

BIR Parade laps are 2 ½ miles around

Entering Turn #5: Michael Self in the #21 car is heading for his first, and well earned, victory.  TMS congratulates Michael on his accomplishment.

Turn #3, and the quickest way around is to use the drop-off of the asphalt as a ‘catch’ for the inside wheels.

With only 2 caution periods the race went quickly.  That was a bit of good luck as the rain returned shortly after the race was complete.

Following the race, Brett meets with some old, and cherished, friends

The car is loaded on the Hauler for its trip back to the TMS Jerome ID Race shop. For some Team Members it has been 13 days on the road. Clearly, everyone is happy to be heading back home.

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