Opened in 1968 as Donnybrooke Speedway there were no safety barriers, run-out areas, grandstands or even restrooms. George Montgomery and Bud Stall cleared the racetrack through a wooded area on the south side of North Long Lake. With the help of St Paul Sports Promoter Dennis Scanlan It hosted a 2 heat USAC Indy Car race in 1969. The heats were won by Gordon Johncock and Dan Gurney.
In 1973 Jerry Hansen bought the track and renamed it Brainerd International Raceway. It played host to CanAm races in 1970, 1971, and 1972. These races were won by, respectively, Denny Hulme, Peter Revson, and François Cevert.
John Force, who races Funny Cars, has won 10 races since 1989.
In the summer of 2006, Jed and Kristi Copham of Forest Lake, Minnesota, became the new owners of Brainerd International Raceway.
Brainerd International Raceway maintains the original name of the now 40 year old course. The course is used for automotive and motorcycle racing.
The 3.1-mile Donnybrooke Road Course has 10 turns and is considered wide – the main straight is 60 feet wide. There is essentially no elevation change. BIR is a high-speed course; vehicles can reach speeds of nearly 180 mph and take the slowest corners around 80 mph. There are wide runoff areas at most of the corners, which makes BIR’s road course extremely safe.
The 2009 racing season was the first for the 2.5 mile course which was completed the previous summer.
Turn 1 on the 2.5-mile Competition Road Course is the same as Turn 1 on the three-mile road course. Turn 1 is a narrow but very high-speed banked right-hand 60-degree turn, which is intended be taken flat out by all vehicles. Turns 1 through 8 of the original 3.1-mile road course are used for the new circuit. At Turn 8, a 300-degree right-hand Clover Leaf transitions drivers from the old course to the new stretch of asphalt that winds its way back across the infield, eventually tying back into the original circuit just before Turn 1. In all, the Competition Road Course features 13 turns and very little elevation change.
The dragstrip dates back to 1969, when BIR converted the mile-long straightaway on its road course to a drag strip and hosted an NHRA Divisional Points Race. In 1977, BIR hosted the Crown Auto Funny Car Championships and the Crown Auto Winston Points Championship. It was reconstructed in 2005, adding a 700-foot concrete launch pad and new asphalt for the remaining 600 feet was installed. Tony Schumacher, set the world record for top fuel dragsters with a 337.58 mph (543.28 km/h) run in 2005.