Mike’s Thoughts – Aug. 22

Good afternoon,

Well, mother nature finally got one on us this weekend. With all the race teams traveling from a greater distance than normal, coupled with the extensive widespread thunderstorms spanning across the Midwest, Kevin and I felt it best to pull the plug early. In my hometown, there was a confirmed tornado that went about a mile and a half away from my house. Hope everyone stayed safe and dry during the storms, and what was a nice extra soaking heading into this week.

Suddenly, we’re down to the final three weeks of our scheduled season beginning with the World of Outlaws Late Models this Friday and Saturday night! Fans have the opportunity to see the nations best Late Model stars wheel around Merritt and try to beat our local stars who I’m sure are going to give them a run for their money. It would be awesome to see the big money ($6,000-to-Win Friday and $15,000-to-Win Saturday) stay local, but either way it will be a genuine honor to host this globally recognized organization at our track.

The Modifieds race for $1,500-to-win on Saturday night and $150-to-start, with increased payouts for every support division on Friday and Saturday both. Four Cylinders will go for $500-to-win Saturday, but remember Saturday will be a non-points special since it was a late addition. Whether you are a Late Model chaser or simply a racing fan, these two days are going to be a treat. Come camp with us, beginning Thursday through Sunday and anytime in-between for only $20 and have some fun.

One note to our competitors, that the Late Model Sideboard special originally scheduled for September 10, is now taking place on Saturday, September 2 so that guys can run at Merritt, along with Crystal and Tri City with the same setup. Our Championship weekend is going to be a special two-day event again, and more information along with all the details for this weekend, and the Diesel Freak Speedfest are on our website under the Special Events tab.

We look forward to seeing you all this weekend! Keep your eyes peeled… you never know who may be walking around, with NASCAR just down the road in Jackson this weekend as well. There could be a surprise superstar behind the wheel or sitting next to you in the grandstands! We are excited and hope you are too.

See everyone Friday and Saturday!

Mike

Mike’s Thoughts – Aug. 15

Good afternoon everybody,

Well Saturday was a do I or don’t I situation. Should we race, or should we pull the plug. I kinda seesawed back and forth for the morning and part of the afternoon as the rain, sunshine, dark clouds, and wind came across the speedway.

Thank you to the Four Cylinders, Factory Stocks, and Pro Trucks that all helped pack the track Saturday. Those of you that made it up the hill, at least haha. That was a sight in itself, but we do genuinely appreciate your help and really couldn’t have raced without it. I think we need a truckload of clay brought back in, to replace what must’ve been scraped off the cars that helped pack.

Once we got the track into race condition, boy was it good. That had to be some of the best races I’ve seen, on one lightning fast surface. It kicked off extra special too, with our partner Diesel Freak stepped up at the last minute and offered $100 to every heat race winner on the night. Plus, $100 extra pay to the Four Cylinder and Factory Stock feature winners! That was a special treat and we want to thank them.

The racing as I mentioned was truly outstanding all night, with the added heat race incentive in pay, and the fast track conditions. The Modifieds put on one hell of a show once again, making back-to-back weeks of simply incredible events to watch. The Late Models might’ve had too fast of a track, and struggled a bit in what turned out to be a long feature race. I want to give huge congratulations to Steve Kurtz, and his son Nick on winning the Late Model feature Saturday night. We had an impressive field of 22 Late Models and Nick did a damn good job holding off some of the Midwest’s top drivers restart after restart. Thanks to all the Late Models as usual for running with us!

WoO_FlyerNice to see Chad Bauer get into victory lane with his son alongside, and Tommie down the doors. Rich Robinson Jr. battled hard with Chad, with Rokos, Mielke and a slew of others in their shadow. Andrew Scheid put on another great show in the Lightning Sprint class, making a last lap pass around Mack Erickson for the lead and win. Congrats to the young man who now has five wins on the year, and thank you to that entire group for continuing to show up and entertain the race fans and have fun with us! Jim Miller Jr. flexed his muscle again in the Factory Stock division, having to outduel Mike Currie and Jacob Flickinger for the win in what was a tough battle for the front five or so spots for most the race. Gary Hammar got his first Pro Truck victory of the race season, in this #21 Plum Crazy Racing machine. And Mr. Tomczak once again found the front and edged out a fast Willard VanHaitsma for the feature win in the Four Cylinder division. Congratulations and thank you to all of our competitors and we thank you for your continued support this year, even when the weather is in question.

Last week we came out with various details regarding some of our big upcoming events, which is pretty much the remainder of the 2016 schedule. The Keyser’s Great Lakes Showdown World of Outlaws Late Model event is going to be special, paying $21,000-to-Win over the two days and 100-laps of feature event racing. That, coupled with high payouts for all the support divisions including $1,500-to-Win Modifieds on Saturday! See the flyer alongside for more details.

ChampionshipFlyerThe 2nd Annual Gene Kregear Engine Pro Championship will be special again this coming Labor Day weekend Saturday and Sunday. Big payouts, fireworks, a post race party and much more are all on tap.

For September 10, we went back and forth on whether we should race this date. In the end, it was our racers and fans that ultimately convinced us to go racing. Today we released details surrounding this special, and we look forward to having a fast and fun final night of the season, all made possible by our friends at Diesel Freak.

Sept10This Saturday, the Late Models have been added as a non-points race to an already huge Open Wheel Spectacular, with the Engine Pro Sprints on Dirt, MTS Non-Wing Sprints, Allstar Performance Michigan Dirt Cup Modifieds, Lightning Sprints, MORA Outlaws, Four Cylinders, and Mini Wedges. Join us for what will be a great night!

Until then,

Mike B

Mike’s Thoughts – Aug. 8

Hello everybody,

I just want to take a moment and wish the family, friends, and those close to Bryan Clauson the best. You are all in my prayers and I feel terrible about the situation, like any time we see a tragedy in motorsports like this. Continued focus on safety innovations and being vigilant about safety in racing is a must.

This past Saturday was one of my favorite nights since owning the track. We were able to host former Merritt track champions and serve them a meal, and recognize them on the front stretch just before racing began. It was Dean Whaley Memorial night, and it was a pleasure to have some of Dean’s family on hand to enjoy the night. I can recall watching Dean race when I was a young man, as well as Garry McKinley and many others. It was an honor to have them back at the track and we hope they all enjoyed their time as well as the fans seeing them. We could’ve done a little better job introducing each one, but in the moment we were all just so excited. But again, thank you to all of you that came! If you didn’t see it on Saturday, we put up a new hall of fame past champions board underneath the pavilion. Take a few minutes to check it out next time you are at the track.

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As for the racing, what a night we had! 37 great UMP Late Models were with us for the Dean Whaley Memorial 40 lap race. The American Ethanol Late Model Tour has quickly turned into a premier touring sanctioning body and it is wonderful to have them at our facility. Thanks to them for all they do to bring life to the Late Model division on a touring basis.

The racing couldn’t get much better throughout the field. Congrats to Dona Marcoullier who was the class of the field, getting the victory. It was a blast for me to watch Eric Spangler, Curtis Roberts, Brandon Thirlby, and Rich Neiser among others all race door to door lap after lap. If you wanted to see a show, you got one with the Late Models.

Modifieds Saturday were no exception to that either, as we had some of the top talent anywhere in the nation all racing head to head. I’ve said it repeatedly, but it is a sincere honor to have guys like Mielke, Poel, Banning, the Bauer’s, Thirlby, Rokos and others at Merritt Speedway. Seeing Mielke and Poel go at it doesn’t get much better, and congrats to David on the win! Jeff Erickson Jr. raced his way to an impressive second place finish, almost picking off Mielke for the win during the closing laps. Great great stuff.

Rick Spencer had to come from deep in the field and get around a flying Craig Foster and T.J. Erickson get back into victory lane in what was an entertaining Pro Stock race. Richie Sutherland is relentless, no matter where he starts, always finds himself racing for the lead and yet again got a checkered flag Saturday. While I’d love to see more Pro Stocks and Pro Trucks race with us weekly, they still put on some good shows for the fans.

Defending Factory Stock Champion Jim Miller Jr. returned to victory lane, having to fend off Mike Currie who had a fast red 57 on Saturday. And finally the Mini Wedges, a class that I haven’t exactly nailed down yet as far as what to expect, had one of the better races of their season, with Braydan Erickson getting the win, Maia Hutchinson, and Lillian Erickson also collecting trophies for second and third.

As wild as it feels to say, we are getting set to close out the 2016 season. This weekend we invite all the Boy & Girl Scout troops to come to the races, and dress in their uniforms for free grandstand admittance. The Open Wheel Spectacular is always a great show, on August 20. Lots of you have been asking about World of Outlaw details, and those will be released later on this week, along with our Championship Weekend payouts and other event details as well. And finally, an additional night of high payout special races for the Late Models, Modifieds, Lightning Sprints, and Four Cylinders on September 10 that wont interfere with the Tri City races. Also, a ‘Run what ya brung’ race as well (sideboards, topless, etc.). Details on all that are forthcoming this week so stay tuned.

Hope to see everyone Saturday night!

Mike B

Mike’s Thoughts – Aug. 1

IMG_1837Hello from Illiana Speedway!

Many of you probably do not know that we purchased the grandstands and several of the lights from Illiana, due to the track shutting down. We are currently in deep disassembling the grandstand sections and preparing to ship them back north on up to Merritt! We are very excited about this addition that is coming for 2017, and will continue to more firmly plant our stamp in the clay as northern Michigan’s premier dirt track!

We are just finishing up for the day so this week will be shorter than usual.

Congratulations to all of our race winners on Saturday. It is always nice to see new faces in victory lane and we had a couple new ones, at least for this season get there last weekend. Congratulations to Brandon Thirlby on capturing the victory over an impressive large field of Keyser Manufacturing Late Models. Andrew Scheid claimed his fourth win, as the youngster continues to find a way to win and learn as he continues his second year in a lightning sprint, this time barely over Jordan Erickson who led most of the race. T.J. Erickson got his second victory of the season, and Richie Sutherland wins again in the Pro Truck division. Chad Tomczak gets it done again in his number 1 Four Cylinder and Andrew Bogart got the flag in the Mini Wedge Association. Congratulations again to each of them and to all of our competitors last weekend.

This Saturday night, August 8, is one of my favorite Saturdays of the year. We honor Merritt’s first ever champion, Dean Whaley, as well as all former Merritt track champions this week. I can remember watching Dean turn laps in the late 70’s, and being a huge fan of him.

We invite every champion to join us to be recognized on the front stretch during the evenings festivities. We will give free grandstand admission along with one guest to the champions, and serve a meal beforehand as well. We will also have a special honor for a special fan this weekend as well.

And of course you can’t forget the American Ethanol Late Models, who will surely put on who of the premier dirt late model races of the season this Saturday night, joining our weekly stars in competition. Along with that, we will be paying an increased payout for our UMP Modified division and will hopefully draw some new faces to the speedway as well.

If you are looking for work or live down around the Schererville, Indiana area… give me a call! We could use all the hands we can get as we continue taking down the bleachers at Illiana Speedway. 616-291-4781.

Looking forward to seeing you all Saturday!

Mike B

Mike’s Thoughts – July 25

Saturday night we packed 97 race cars, along with their drivers, owners, teams, fans in to the pit area for what was truly another special night of racing. Also thank you to the race fans for coming out and filling the grandstands. By the time we went racing, it had cooled off a little bit and was actually quite comfortable and a nice evening to be outdoors at the track.

To work with the Michigan Dirt Cup Tour, we gave our Modifieds the night off, and then added them back on but with no-points so guys could chase points elsewhere. Thanks to the 15 Modifieds that still came and raced with us and put on a hell of a battle, especially for the lead during the mid-portion of the event.

We would like to congratulate Eric Spangler on rallying from fifth place starting position and driving his way to the front and taking a commanding lead and win. Mister Brent Banning drove to victory lane, getting his first Modified checkered flag of the race season. Congrats to Mike Vandermark Jr., who’s been on a tear as of late and winning the Pro Stock feature last weekend. Rob Brillhart in the Pro Trucks and Mike Currie in the Factory Stocks each got their first Merritt wins of the season, and Dirk VanAuken also claimed his first win of the year! Congratulations to each of them, and to all the heat race winners and other participants.

How ‘bout a special shout out to the 4-Cylinder division, going CAUTION FREE in their heat races AND feature race!!! They put on a great show for the fans and had clean races all the way through, which is good for everyone.

This weekend we host our Night of Speed, with the Great Lakes Super Sprint Series AND our Keyser UMP Late Models this weekend, accompanied by the Lightning Sprints, Pro Stocks, Pro Trucks, and Four Cylinders. We’re excited about this event and it looks like it should be a memorable show for the race fans! Fans come out and support this event and we will have more like it in the future too.

August 6 is our Dean Whaley Memorial Race and Champions Night. All past champions are invited to the races for free grandstand admission. If you know of anyone that is a past champion that may not have Facebook or a computer, tell them about this recognition night. A private dinner will be supplied for all past champions as well that evening.  American Ethanol Late Models, SOD Sprints, Allstar MTS Sprints, World of Outlaws and more are ALL still to come to Merritt in 2016. Let’s start the run to the finish off strong this weekend! See you at the races.

Mike B

 

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