Brainerd is the one “must go” place on any NHRA Drag Racing’s List

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  • This week, the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series at Brainerd International Raceway (Minnesota) for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals car race.
  • Two-time NHRA Champion and Autowick Insider Ron Capps says Brannard’s station is his favorite on the track.
  • After all, not every track has a fan camping area known as “The Zoo” and “Capps Corner” on its grounds, complete with its Facebook page.

    I wouldn’t be where I am today, none of this would have happened, had it not been for Brainerd. It all started in Brainerd when I was a crew member, just a crew member on a dragster.

    It’s where I met team owner John Mitchell, the one who gave me my first chance to get my drag racing license. I decided to hit the road to see the country and hit some races and be one of the crew.

    It was 1993, and it was during the oil downturn. I was in the starting lanes, and an old man started talking to me. I thought it was another dragster crew member, and it turned out to be Mitchell, the owner of two tow cars. And so the next day, he came up to me, and we just had a great conversation.

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    And he said, “You know, if you want to get your license on my dragster, just fly to Montana and we’ll do it.” That’s how it went, and I got my license. I drove, and Roger Bremm saw me in his car, and then I got that deal. And then he was in that car that Don Prudhomme saw me in.

    So it was just this kind of chain reaction.

    Since then, Brainerd has been special to me. Plus my wife’s family is from this whole area. So we bring a lot of her family to attend. I have never argued with anything about this place. Looks like I’m doing well here.

    The community here has really embraced me, and it goes both ways. It’s very funny because some teams or drivers for a longer period of time will not come close to the “zoo”. There were some owners who told their crew members that they weren’t allowed to go anywhere in The Zoo or even the camp area.

    I learned early on what makes this place so special. This race is somewhere I tell people when they ask – whether they travel from abroad or from anywhere in the world – they ask what race should I go if I’ve never been to it before?

    Brainerd is always the first to tell them about it.

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    Fans of the zoo love her. But when I started going out there, just hanging out a little bit – not going crazy, but spending some time there with the fans after hours – I became part of their family, I guess. And then the end goal was to have a corner named after me, the “Caps Corner.”

    When I was a crew member when I first started, there was a Budweiser Corner that day and it was for Kenny Bernstein, that was their deal. It was a wonderful thing. But when they came out and created Capps Corner, it was like man, I’m really into a big time now! ”

    Yeah, I think it’s like the IndyCar guys probably talk about Elkhart Lake, and some of these other tracks that are old school – in many ways, tracks that remind people of what it was like to race.

    That’s what makes Brainerd so special.”

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    Editor’s note: Ron Capps, 57, is a two-time NHRA Funny Car Champion and Defender originally from San Luis Obispo, California, and now resides in Carlsbad. This year, the NAPA Toyota Supra Funny Car driver is fulfilling his lifelong dream of owning his own team, moving from Don Schumacher Racing to Ron Capps Motorsports. Capps . will be allowed Autowick Readers are inside the ropes with NHRA columns and writing about his transition to owner/driver throughout the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing season.

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