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Providing Motorsports Rapid Response Teams and Event Operations Staff

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 Wednesday, April 14 2021 @ 09:02 PM EDT

BIR Sold!

   
Current NewsBrainerd International Raceway sold to Forest Lake family
Associated Press

BRAINERD, Minn. Brainerd International Raceway has
been purchased by a Forest Lake family and the new
owners said Thursday that they plan to continue
racing.
Jed and Kristi Copham, operating as BIR Holdings LLC,
purchased the track for an undisclosed amount from
Michigan-based Sports Resorts International Inc. and
are renaming the facility Brainerd International
Raceway and Resort.

Jed Copham, a 33-year-old mechanical engineer with a
passion for cars, said he first talked to the track's
former owners when the 550-acre raceway was listed for
sale more than a year ago.

Copham, who worked with the family printing business
Liberty Enterprises until it was sold in June 2005,
said he has built two cars and has raced at BIR. He
described himself and his family as amateur road
racers and occasional drag racers.

Copham, who was involved in an effort to build a race
track west of Pine City in 2004, called BIR "a
national treasure." He said he plans to make the track
as attractive a destination as possible for anybody
who has a passion for racing.

Copham, who planned to meet with track employees
Friday, said the track is a long-term investment for
the family and they hope to have fun, earn a living
and be part of a racing legacy.

Don Williamson, mayor of Flint, Mich., is Sports
Resorts International chief executive officer. He said
in a news release that as mayor and with his wife,
Patsy Lou, running for state Senate in Michigan, the
couple is focusing their efforts within their local
community.

"We have owned the Brainerd facility since 1994 and
continued to invest each year with numerous capital
improvements," Williamson said. "We feel this has
continued to make BIR a great destination for
thousands of motorsports fans and racers."

In the transaction announced Thursday, Williamson
retains a six-unit condominium on a 6.5-acre parcel
adjacent to the track.

BIR's largest annual event is the National Hot Rod
Associations Lucas Oil Nationals. The event, which is
set Aug. 10-13, is in its 25th year and draws an
estimated 30,000 to 50,000 people.

Copham said he plans to continue the current drag
racing and road course racing programs while searching
for new racing events.

Rod Wolter will continue as BIR general manager.

The raceway, with a number of ownership and management
changes, has been part of the Brainerd Lakes Area
almost continuously since it opened in 1968 as
Donneybrooke Speedway.
 

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BIR in new hands for NHRA
Authored by: RLRescue on Thursday, August 10 2006 @ 10:03 PM EDT
BIR will be in different hands for NHRA event
Patrick Reusse, Star Tribune

Last update: August 07, 2006 9:19 PM
Jed Copham has this opinion on what car racing has become in the 21st Century: "In general, it's not something you happen to go watch, but something you do."

To demonstrate this theory, Copham, 33, spent three years of his life attempting to build a racing facility that would have the same concept as a country club. You would keep a car there and play when you had the urge.

The first attempt took place in Pine County, on a site west of Interstate Hwy. 35 near Henriette, Minn. He was going to call his facility Pine Run. An opposition group formed and managed to kill the deal.

Copham next tried a 750-acre site in Isanti County. This was to be called North Star. "Then, somebody got hold of a media report, and the same people -- the CRAPRs -- started creating opposition," he said.

CRAPRs? "That's what they called themselves," Copham said. "Concerned Residents Against Pine Run. They came in and made it sound like we would have as much traffic every day of the week as Brainerd has for its national event.

"After a horrible meeting [with local politicians] in April, we decided to stop the arguments and save a legend in the process."

Brainerd International Raceway had been for sale for some time. Once Pine Run was dead in 2005, Copham contacted BIR representatives and was told there was a tentative deal in place.

"This February, the BIR people called me and said the other deal was off, and was I still interested," Copham said. "I was, but they still wanted a premium price. I was still thinking the North Star project was a go, so I said, 'No, thank you.' "

When he tired of North Star complications in April, Copham contacted the representatives for BIR owner Don (The Colonel) Williamson again.

"This time, we compromised on the price, and then we spent three months working on the details," Copham said.

Williamson became a controversial character in area racing circles when he fired BIR general manager Dick Roe and took hands-on control of the track in 1999. There were bitter complaints from patrons at the Northstar Nationals drag races that first summer.

Copham had one sitdown with Williamson during this negotiating process. "The legend is more than the man, in my opinion," Copham said. "The Colonel was personable to me."

The final papers for the sale were signed July 27. Copham said the contract prohibits him from disclosing the purchase price. He said it was somewhat less than what he planned to spend on Pine Run or North Star, projects he was hoping to get built in the $10 million range.

The completion of the sale makes Copham the owner of BIR for this week's NHRA national event, basically the track's only big public attraction during the late stages of Williamson's ownership.

Copham lives near Forest Lake. He arrived at BIR last weekend with the intention of "getting the grass mowed, put paint on anything that needs it," to make the facility look as good as possible for what the new owner refers to as "Super Week."

Rod Wolter, a veteran track manager, has been running BIR for the past two years. He will remain on the payroll for the immediate future. Scott Quick, Williamson's first track manager, worked with Copham during the failed attempts to build a country club track. He probably will succeed Wolter, and then work on mending relationships that suffered when he was seen by amateur racers as "the Colonel's man."

Long-term, Copham hopes to incorporate some of the country club racing concepts into the Brainerd operation. "One thing I want to do for sure is to bring back go-karting," he said. "There's a great go-karting area at BIR that wasn't being used."

Copham also hopes to expand the BIR professional schedule. The AMA Superbikes could be back soon. Copham also has visions of bringing back a road race from a pro series, which was the main purpose original owner George Montgomery had in mind when he opened the facility as Donnybrooke in 1968.

"Something amazing happened when I was here last week," Copham said. "The mayors of Brainerd and Baxter, and people from the area Chamber of Commerce, came out to the track to welcome me -- to thank me for guaranteeing this would stay a racing facility.

"That was quite a shock, after dealing with the CRAPRs."
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