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Home alone: Folks around Wright descend on Brainerd every year for drag racing

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While Greg Anderson hoped to sneak back to his hometown of Duluth Thursday to get a round of golf in with old buddies at Ridgeview Country Club, Anderson’s Summit Racing teammate, Jason Line, had no plans of going to his hometown of Wright until Monday.

“There’s no point in going there anyway,” Line said.

Line wasn’t being cold. He loves his hometown, but he just knows half the town of Wright (population 127) will be in Brainerd, Minn., this weekend for the 38th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals.

“That’s the plan,” Line said.

Geoff Gorvin with BIR points out that total population of Tamarack, Wright and Cromwell is only 420, but it seems like half of them will be racing. The numbers are uncanny.

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From Cromwell, there’s Brad Koivisto, Hannah Line, Lance Line, Steve Hutar, Ryan Hutar and Jared Hutar, from Wright, Jason’s parents Lawrence and Maxine, from Tamarack, Ronald Prince.

“All will be racing in the Stock Eliminator class, where there’s a total of 63 entries,” Gorvin said. “So two percent of the population will comprise 15 percent of the entries in Stock Eliminator. Fun with numbers.”

In addition you’ve got Glen DeMenge from nearby McGregor and Jason’s brother, Ben Line, who lives in International Falls.

Would the last one turn out the lights?

“For the most part, everyone will already be at the track by the time I get there,” said Line, who was mired in traffic on I-94 on Wednesday afternoon while en route to Brainerd. “I enjoy watching Sportsman racing, and I love visiting with folks I only get to see once a year. I normally don’t claim that I know the Koivisto character, but I will this time.”

More than 100 dragsters will carry the Line Performance sticker this weekend, having engines done by Lance Line.

“There’s a pile,” Jason Line said. “The racing community is kind of a small world, really, and everybody kind of knows everybody. For being a northern climate, racing is very popular here. Even though it’s a short season, you have a long winter to think about things. It makes for an interesting weekend.”

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38TH ANNUAL LUCAS OIL NHRA NATIONALS

What: 17th of 24 stops on NHRA's top circuit

When: Thursday through Sunday

Where: Brainerd (Minn.) International Raceway

Schedule: Sportsman qualifying begins Thursday with professional qualifying Friday and Saturday and final eliminations starting at 11 a.m. Sunday

Defending champions: Billy Torrence (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Deric Kramer (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

Brainerd forecast: Mostly or partly sunny all weekend with highs in the upper 70s and low chance of rain

TV: Fox Sports 1 (6-7:30 p.m. Friday; 10-11 p.m. Saturday and 1-4 p.m. Sunday, with re-airs starting Sunday and going throughout the week on FS1 and FS2)

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Tickets: Reserved grandstand seats range from $50 to $85 each day, with children 12 and under admitted free and multi-day discounts available; visit brainerdraceway.ticketforce.com or call BIR Ticket Office at (866) 444-4455 or (218) 824-RACE (7223)

Related Topics: BIR
Jon Nowacki joined the News Tribune in August 1998 as a sports reporter. He grew up in Stephen, Minnesota, in the northwest corner of the state, where he was actively involved in school and sports and was a proud member of the Tigers’ 1992 state championship nine-man football team.

After graduating in 1993, Nowacki majored in print journalism at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, serving as editor of the college paper, “The Aquin,” and graduating with honors in December 1997. He worked with the Associated Press during the “tobacco trial” of 1998, leading to the industry’s historic $206 billion settlement, before moving to Duluth.

Nowacki started as a prep reporter for the News Tribune before moving onto the college ranks, with an emphasis on Minnesota Duluth football, including coverage of the Bulldogs’ NCAA Division II championships in 2008 and 2010.

Nowacki continues to focus on college sports while filling in as a backup on preps, especially at tournament time. He covers the Duluth Huskies baseball team and auto racing in the summer. When time allows, he also writes an offbeat and lighthearted food column entitled “The Taco Stand,” a reference to the “Taco Jon” nickname given to him by his older brother when he was a teenager that stuck with him through college. He has a teenage daughter, Emma.

Nowacki can be reached at jnowacki@duluthnews.com or (218) 380-7027. Follow him on Twitter @TacoJon1.
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