You are going to love the track at Brainerd International Raceway & Resort in Brainerd, Minnesota. Not only do they have an awesome race schedule and spectacular seating for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, but they also boast some of the best camping facilities in racing. That is why they call it a resort. It is more than just a racetrack. Mid-August is a great time to visit here because Minnesota does not get as scorching hot as the rest of the country. With highs in the upper 70s and lows in the 50s, it doesn’t even seem like summertime.
The .025-mile dragstrip is just one of the tracks here at Brainerd as they also boast 2.5-mile and 3.1-mile tracks as well as a kart track and with a seating capacity of 20,000, the roar of the crowd is almost as loud as the roar of the motors. According to the racers, the strip is known as one of the fastest in the world after it was resurfaced in 2003 with the record speed of 337.58 miles per hour by Tony Schumacher in 2005. And the records for the Funny Car were set at this track in both 2016 and 2017.
But the facilities for spectators is also something to brag about in Brainerd. They have 164 RV campsites with full hookups and over 200 acres for rustic camping as well. And right smack in the middle of the campground, you can find a huge lake with hungry fish, so go ahead and bring your fishing gear along with you. The campsites are spacious, and you may forget you are at the racetrack while nestled in the wooded campground with your fellow racing fans. There is even a section for families with small children if you want to bring the kiddos along. With live music and activities, everyone will have fun.
In the past, tickets for Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals have been between $50 and $85 for a single race, which includes admission and seating. Packages range from $200 on up to $385 for admission and camping for the full week. This does not include any specials such as VIP or premium packages, parking, or miscellaneous add-ons.
Situated just off of MN-371, Brainerd International Raceway is easy to find no matter which way you are coming from across the country. You’ll be surrounded by water on all sides, including Gull Lake and Round Lake to the north, East Gull Lake to the west, North Long Lake to the east, and Jacks Lake, Red Sand Lake, and Wise Lake to the south. If you are a water lover, bring your water toys along.
If you are not camping at the track, parking your RV may not be as difficult as you think at Brainerd. In previous years, parking has been available at the gate for $10 on the course or $20 in the field outside the gate. ADA and motorcycle parking are $10 by the Nitro Pits. Of course, camping is preferred when you are driving a big rig, so you do not have to maneuver it around tight spaces.
The county of Crow Wing teams up with Brainerd to better provide public transportation in and around the area. You do have to call one day in advance to schedule your ride, so make sure you check on this before your trip. The other options include taking a taxi or scheduling a ride from a rideshare app.
You can find plenty of RV campsites right on the track of Brainerd Raceway for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals. Pleasure Land RV Campground has 164 VIP campsites with full hookups right behind the main grandstand around the lake. The Zoo Campground is huge and has over 200 campsites on a first-come, first-served basis. It is referred to as the zoo because it gets pretty rowdy.
If you bring the kids, you may want to check out the Family Campground, which has over 100 campsites on the go-kart track. Quarter Mile Camping is located right next to the Nitro Cars Return Road. Brainerd allows pets, but you have to sign a pet waiver and keep them restrained at all times.
Some people just do not want to camp in crowded or loud atmospheres. If you would rather be out in the woods where you are more secluded, there are over a dozen campgrounds within a 20-mile area around the track. In fact, just 13 miles to the south you can find Crow Wing State Park, which has 60 RV sites that can accommodate rigs up to 45 feet in length, some with electrical hookups. The other campgrounds in the area have various amenities ranging from primitive to full hookups and showers.
Unlike many other racetracks, Brainerd Raceway allows auxiliary vehicles on the property. Although you have to buy a sticker and sign a waiver, it is definitely worth it to be able to drive your side by side, pit bike, golf cart, or four-wheeler around the 550 acres. The park does have shuttle service for ADA visitors, but it is nice to be able to have your own personal vehicle.
Minnesota has some awesome weather in August. Unlike the rest of the country, the temps here in this part of the country tend to be cool and pleasant. It is still a good idea to pack some shorts and tank tops just in case it gets hot, but most of your items should be geared toward temps in the upper 70s and low 80s.
The gear you may want to pack will depend on the campground you choose. If you are staying at the track where you have full hookups, you should get by with cooking indoors if that is what you want to do. However, it is always a good idea to pack a camp stove and gas grill just in case. Small coolers are allowed at the races, but size dimensions may apply. Don't forget your scanner and headphones for an enhanced Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals experience.
Two of the most important items you want to have with you are sunscreen to keep you from getting sunburned and insect repellent to keep the bugs away. Ticks and mosquitoes are present wherever you camp, so you always want to be prepared for that. It is also important to have sunglasses and a hat to protect your face and eyes from the sun. Pack all that in a small backpack, and you are good to go.
If you are staying at the track in one of the campsites where there are full hookups, cooking will be easy indoors. Most of the sites at the track also have campfire rings where you can cook on the open fire, or you can use a camp stove or BBQ grill. Plan ahead by making meals that you can freeze so you can just heat them up when you need them.
Just across the street, within walking distance, you can find a fantastic bar and grill that serves all kinds of yummy foods like chicken wings, burgers, and fries, as well as other bar foods. Just a bit further down the road in Brainerd, you can find a pizza joint, saloon, Asian cuisine, a Mexican restaurant, and several diners. Of course, there are the usual fast food places as well.
Brainerd International Raceway has its own full-service restaurant and bar called the Wheelie Bar & Grille. Here you can find hot meals, including lunches and breakfasts. Located right next to the condos, you can find the place by just following the smell of good food. The track also has quite a few food and merchandise vendors during the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals. The Shirt Shack is also there to sell you souvenirs as well as fuel.
Brainerd takes your safety seriously, and you will be happy to see them located throughout the track if you need them. They are available all the time, not just during the races. For those who stay in the campgrounds, security is just a phone call away. In addition, the staff is there to enforce the rules, so everyone stays safe while having a good time.
Brainerd, Minnesota is a fantastic place to spend the summer because of the relatively low temperatures. Highs in the mid to upper 70s and lows in the middle 50s are pretty much perfect temps for enjoying any kind of outdoor events, including the races and camping. However, there is always a chance of a pop-up thunderstorm at any time, so monitor the weather during your trip.
There are a few first aid stations at Brainerd International Raceway if you need any medical help from a minor injury or illness to a severe incident. The closest first aid station to camp is in the southeast corner of the campground near the family camping areas. There is a clinic as well as a hospital about seven miles away in Brainerd if you would rather make the trip yourself. Pharmacy services are even closer if you need to restock the first-aid kit.