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Proving Grounds - June 2021


MAP Proving Grounds returns for 2021 and it was long awaited for since the Covid-19 Pandemic pretty much cancelled out both of last years' event. Still held at Brainerd International Raceway (BIR), All events were back on the board from drag racing, auto cross, to drifting and track time on the road track. And Drive Cartel was right there to help sponsor Saturday's car show and burn out contest. Proving Grounds is certainly interesting as you truly get a wide range of vehicles, and drivers. Many cars compete in multiple events and pretty much are street driven for a daily drive. While other vehicles, are purpose built to run on the specific events and courses held on the grounds. Either way, it's always great to see people get together to do something they can be passionate about, no matter the obstacle.


Some of the simplest forms of racing, is to go in a straight line. Although, there is nothing simple about it, it's usually where many motorsport enthusiasts start before moving to something else. On the drag strip, many different types of vehicles were running down the quarter-mile from starting at the lighted tree, or through roll racing. Vehicles and drivers were pushing themselves to the limit, from big V8's to turbo four cylinders, to diesel trucks and even the occasional snowmobile. Some cars are street driven and some where fully modified with solid fiberglass bodies. BIR brings out the best conditions and most suitable track team within the state to ensure everyone has a fair, and safe run. Most likely why the National Hot Rod Association brings themselves to the north for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals every August for almost 40 years now. Whether through roll racing, or from a dead stop, every driver has the same goal, to reach the end as fast as they can and the quickest amount of time.


Another timed sport is Autocross (or Autoslalom). Autocross is a timed competition in which competitors navigate one at a time through a defined course driving against the clock rather than other cars on the same course. Courses can range pending the surface, track layout, and weather. Cones usually mark the lines and corners and striking one, can result in a time penalty or even a DNF. Some courses even end with a brake box to stop your time. BIR has a newly resurfaced pad that the autocross drivers share with the drifters and is well protected being surrounded by concrete to keep the spectators safe. Many different types of vehicles can be caught running in the autocross with small Miatas to larger Vipers. Even pick-up trucks have had a go before. Either way, autocross is a great stepping stone into more competitive styles of races like circuit racing or rally racing.


With all things "GO" at Proving Grounds, they also have a "SHOW" portion held on Saturday. Here, regardless of what you drive or race in, you can always enter into the car show to show off outside of the track. It can be a little tricky at times as the show runs along side multiple events happening on the property, but lots of enthusiasts still attempt to make some time. Shown on the infield, the Proving Grounds car show truly brings all together as a wide variety of cars from ALL of the events attend, as then some. Here, people show off their builds and their passion through their eyes, hard parker, or not.


The High Performance Driving Experience (HPDE) event for Proving Grounds allows for a driver to take their car and push it out on the track. This is more competitive versus the autocross because instead of racing time, you're racing other drivers in other cars. There are gentlemen rules in place and you can't just go nuts like a video game. Proper maintenance and some are a must; especially when it comes to brakes. For the most part, the driving experience is amazing and can really push your car to the limits in acceleration, cornering, and deceleration. For Proving Grounds though, you don't get full use of the road course, but if you want to do that, there is always Power Cruise every August at BIR.


The burn out competition. One of a few events that happen Saturday night. Typically it usually is on around sunset and when Saturday autocross is ending, roughly a few selected competitors get to shred tires and put on a show for the majority of the attendees to Proving Grounds. These drivers push their cars to the max with high revving RPM's in hopes of destroying tires, rather than their motors for a cash prize at the end. Winners are chosen by majority crowd vote. You do get a couple of duds, blown parts, and possibly hit with tire debris, but it all makes for an exciting show. Anyone can sign up to participate for free, but, officials will inspect vehicles and dwindle down the amount of drivers for safety reasons if need be.


Drifting. Not much more to say, but drifting is one of the biggest events at Proving Grounds and it occurs all day, all weekend. Typically, Friday's drifting is out on the road course. Every car registered has to go through a drift approval process on in the pits to get out onto the track. At times, you can find a solo drift car, or tandems of 2 - 5 cars out at once. Eventually, the drifters move to the skid pad at night for night drifting where you can get up close and personal with the cars as they swing about at high revs.

Pretty much the only event at night, it draws the most attention and largest fan base for viewing. The newly extended skid pad is wider and allows more viewing points than before, but still, it's a large crowd so make sure you're able to get a good spot, especially if you're photographing. The night drifting event happens both Friday and Saturday (Saturday after the burn out competition). But for the day drifts, out on the skid pad on Saturday and Sunday are where people show that they are "in control, unless you're out of control." Regardless on the track or on the pad, drifting always draws a crowd and drivers can always meet a new friend to tandem with.


No matter what, MAP Proving Grounds is a must attend at least once in your life. A way to enjoy a full weekend of motorsports and with friends and family. Proving Grounds happens twice a year and both events at Brainerd International Raceway. One in the beginning of summer, and one at the end of summer. MAP sponsors a great event and BIR is a great host. Lots of times you'll run into someone you didn't even know was there, and at the same time, meet new faces of similar interests. Passengers are allowed in the majority of events as long as you meet the same safety requirements as the drivers (helmets, pants, etc) which can add to your Proving Grounds experience even more. Camping is allowed on the property, but there are also hotels near by to stay at. Outside of BIR, there are plenty of things to do also like go-carting, mini-golf, and various restaurants to eat at. A trip to Brainerd all in all, can be an exciting one to all, especially when you see the smile and excitement on the faces of the children watching cars race by.


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Mike Murray
Mike Murray
27 Jun 2021

Great article with superb photography.

Keep up the good work!

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