Brainerd International Raceway is the largest racetrack in the Upper Midwest, offering the most diverse motorsports schedule anywhere – and all events are back for the 2021 season! With a world-class drag strip and two road courses, the venue hosts drag racing, road racing, endurance racing, Superbike racing, drifting, and autocross competitions, cruising events, and car shows. The small lake on property even hosts watercross competitions, where snowmobiles race on open water.

After a hiatus for many events last summer (and most of 2020), the Raceway is pulling out all the stops to welcome back guests for a high-octane experience. Wedged between State Highway 371 and North Long Lake in Brainerd, the Raceway has come a long way since its modest beginnings in 1968. Its colorful history and world-class racing have helped put Brainerd “on the map.”


The NHRA Nationals is the main draw each year at the Raceway, making its stop here every August. The much-anticipated event brings the world’s best drag racers together for the ultimate race with the fastest dragsters in front of 100,000 spectators.

The event was originally called the NorthStar Nationals. More than 50,000 fans attended the inaugural race as they watched Shirley Muldowney win the Top Fuel Dragster finals and Mark Oswald set a world speed record of 256.41 mph in his Top Fuel Dragster. Other winners in the early years of that event were Kenny Bernstein, John Force, Jim Head, and Joe Amato, the winningest Top Fueler in NHRA history, who won in Brainerd four times in the 1980s.

​The fastest show on Earth returns to Brainerd International Raceway for the 39th annual event August 20-22, 2021. (The Lucas Oil Series Divisional races will be held August 18 and 19.) At center stage is ground-pounding, lightning-fast drag racing featuring every household name in the industry. The Raceway is widely known as the fastest drag strip in the country and remains a favorite stop for race teams.

The Top Fuel Dragsters get down the quarter-mile track in less than four seconds at speeds over 330 mph, cranking out 11,000 horsepower along the way! Every race ticket comes with a pit pass, so fans can watch teams tear down their race cars and rebuild them between races. Stand within feet of the crews as they crank up the car, sending the burn of nitro fuel into the crowd – you can’t get that anywhere else.


In addition to the many racing engagements, the facility’s Performance Driving School holds classes May through September for any skill level driver. The primary class is open to the general public and anyone 16 years of age or older with a valid driver’s license. No previous experience of any kind is necessary. The Raceway also hosts three additional courses:

​StreetSmarts Advanced Defensive Driving Course is open to anyone 16 years of age or older with a valid driver’s license. This full-day course is a combination of classroom and behind-the-wheel instruction. This exciting, safe and eye-opening course led by experienced track and safety professionals teaches real emergency driving techniques to help keep you safe on the roadways.

​The SafeGuard Threat Protection Driving Course is open to the general public. SafeGuard provides the skills and knowledge to safely evade danger, give pursuit and protect passengers regardless of the speed and inherent dangers required to do so.

​The SafePursuit Emergency Vehicle Operators Course is open only to qualified law enforcement personnel for training and certification purposes. These events are scheduled by request.

Tickets for any course or event can be purchased at


Catching a race is just one of the many fun, family-friendly events that will help make unforgettable vacation memories. Gull Lake Beach Resorts is situated in the heart of the Brainerd Lakes region, located right on Gull Lake’s best beaches, and just a short drive from all the local action. These perfectly appointed properties will be an amazing home base for your next vacation getaway. Contact us today to book your lakeside cabin and begin planning all your Gull Lake area events and activities.