Northland drag racers descended on Brainerd (Minnesota) International Raceway last weekend for the Gopher State Timing Association’s annual Muscle Car Shootout and left with plenty of hardware.

BIR’s Muscle Car Series was shortened from three races to two after the coronavirus pandemic caused the cancellation of the Memorial Day weekend event, but drag racers came out in droves for the other events.

Among the winners from Sunday’s final eliminations: Vern Laurin Jr. of Duluth def. Lee Loew of Darwin, Minnesota, in Outlaw Pro Mod, Brian Mahnke of Proctor def. Jake Waste of Corona, California in King Street, Bob Wallin of Superior lost to Jeff Saucier of New Hope, Minnesota, in Real Street Natural, R.J. Laase of Duluth lost to Larry Curtis of Bethel, Minnesota, in 10.00 Index, Nick Pirkola of Duluth defeated Leon Vinkemeier of Belle Plaine, Minnesota, in 11.00 Index and Jesse Backstrom of Grand Marais defeated Charlie Siegel of Carver, Minnesota, in 13.00 Index.

Among the highlights, Laurin drove his 2008 Dodge Stratus to a finals win over Loew. Loew was the No. 1 qualifier and had the fastest car on the track last weekend but he fouled at the starting line, handing the win to Laurin.

Vern Laurin won the Outlaw Pro Mod class Sunday at the Gopher State Timing Association’s annual Muscle Car Shootout at Brainerd International Raceway. (Submitted photo)
Vern Laurin won the Outlaw Pro Mod class Sunday at the Gopher State Timing Association’s annual Muscle Car Shootout at Brainerd International Raceway. (Submitted photo)

Mahnke, meanwhile, had dominated the King Street class but the Proctor driver gave way the past couple seasons. He returned to form last weekend in sweeping the 23-driver field as the No. 1 qualifier. Driving his 1972 Chevrolet Camaro, Mahnke’s winning time was 7.986 seconds at 176.10 mph, compared to Waste’s 8.482 seconds at 172.47 mph.

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Brian Mahnke won the King Street class at Sunday's Gopher State Timing Association’s Muscle Car Shootout at Brainerd International Raceway. (Submitted photo)
Brian Mahnke won the King Street class at Sunday's Gopher State Timing Association’s Muscle Car Shootout at Brainerd International Raceway. (Submitted photo)