Racing at BIR a Line family tradition

Drag racer Jason Line laughed when asked how busy he has been leading up to this week's 34th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.

Jason Line drives during an NHRA Pro Stock race this season. (Summit Racing photo)

Drag racer Jason Line laughed when asked how busy he has been leading up to this week’s 34th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.
Line, a native of Wright, plans to compete in Stock Eliminator, in addition to his duties as a Pro Stock driver and mechanic. He was reached Friday at the team shop in Mooresville, N.C.
“I guess I’m a glutton for punishment,” Line said. “It just takes a lot of effort. That’s all I can say.”
Drag racing is a family tradition for the Line family.
Line; his brothers Lance and Ben; his sister, Stephanie; and parents Maxine and Lawrence, all plan on competing this week. Stock Eliminator is part of the Sportsman racing that helps support the pro event each year.
Jason Line, 46, has done this before, but it is rare when the entire family competes. This could be the last time. Line competed in the Sportsman classes a few years ago, when an ailing friend, the late Peter Boslovitch, asked him to drive his car, “and I couldn’t say no,” Line said.
That time, Line basically just had to show up and drive, and the results weren’t good.
“I stunk,” Line said. “Just like any other kind of racing, you don’t just jump in and do well at it. You have to practice, but it was still fun.”
The bracket racing used in the Sportsman classes is a different style of racing. It’s not just heads-up racing, first one across the line wins like with the pros. It’s about consistency and knowing your car. It’s not like Pro Stock, where cars reach speeds of more than 200 mph in less than 7 seconds.
“It’s a totally different deal, but it’s fun,” Line said. “I’m a car guy. I like any kind of muscle cars. A lot of good folks do it, and it’s just great to be a part of.”
Line is expecting some long days at the track. He is busy preparing his 1970 Buick Gran Sport, the same car he used to win the 1993 National Hot Rod Association Stock Eliminator Championship.
Line has had the car since 1992. He let a Canadian friend use it for a few years, but after that, it just sat. As of Friday, he hadn’t even had it running yet.
“I’m sort of resurrecting it,” Line said. “I fear change. I don’t get rid of anything.”
Line is the defending Pro Stock champion at Brainerd, his first, but it wasn’t without a catch as the Pro Stock finals had to be completed two weeks later in Indianapolis due to rain.
“A win is a win, but it would have certainly been a lot more fun to win it in Brainerd,” Line said.
BIR, which recovered from a massive storm July 12, certainly has special meaning for the Lines, having served as their home away from home each summer. So win or lose this weekend, it’s going to be memorable.
“My sister has three kids and hasn’t raced in almost 10 years, and I don’t know how much longer my parents are going to do it,” Line said. “Who knows? At this point in your life, every year could be your last, so it’ll be fun for all of us to go back and do it again. This is how we grew up. Going to Brainerd was a huge deal, especially for the national event. It only comes around once a year, and we looked forward to that more than anything. It’s a big deal.”
Line won the Pro Stock championship in 2006 and 2011. He sits fourth in the point standings this year and already has qualified for the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, the NHRA’s six-race playoffs. Brainerd and Indy are the final events before the Countdown kicks off Sept. 18 in Charlotte, N.C.
Line’s teammate, Greg Anderson, a Duluth native, leads in points after winning four races. The drivers tune each other’s cars.
“Greg is doing really well, and that takes a little pressure off,” Line said. “As long as one of us is winning, it’s all good, but you’re definitely under pressure to perform all the time. It’s not an easy gig, but it’s not supposed to be.”
Anderson, 54, is a four-time Pro Stock champion with 78 career wins. He is aiming for his first title since 2010. It is a remarkable change from last year, when he missed the first five races because of heart surgery, rallied to get back in the playoff picture, only to just miss the cut.
Anderson said he is healthy and feeling great. He no longer has to wear a chest protector and is back in a normal seat.
“What a difference from a year ago,” Anderson said. “It’s been 10 times better. I’m having fun again. Last year I tried to scrape and claw my way into the Countdown, but just didn’t get it done. The bottom line is I wasn’t running good enough. I wouldn’t have been able to win a championship, anyway, but it’s a whole new year.”
The biggest difference this year has been the car. Anderson and his Summit Racing team have his new red Camaro dialed in.
“We kept telling ourselves there can’t be anything wrong with this race car, it’s got to be what we’re doing with it,” Anderson said of the old car. “We never could quite figure it out, but something is definitely different with this new car. I don’t know what, but I can guarantee you one thing: My next car will be red.”

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 or (218) 380-7027. Follow him on Twitter @TacoJon1.
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