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

 

Mike’s Thoughts – July 18

The 28th Annual Wood Tic is over just like that. It feels like the first half of the season has absolutely flown by. I cannot thank the fans, drivers, employees, and everyone enough for your support throughout the entire Wood Tic weekend and the first half of this race season.

13639714_1748828215359371_1268162819_oThe Wood Tic is a special event to many people, and is very special to me as well. Ed VanDuinen started this race 28 years ago, and to carry on the tradition of the unique event is a genuine honor. Carmen VanDuinen continues to be as dedicated to Merritt as I believe she always has been, and I even consider her my co-promoter. She does more for the race track than anyone else knows and her dedication is incredible.

Merritt staff… Thank you so much for enduring the three and for some four days of hard work all day and night at the race track. A special call out to Randy Hose and Joe Wood for maintaining the racing surface like they did, to ensure a quality race track, keeping the dust down, and providing the drivers with a facility to put one hell of a show on for the fans. Thank you to everyone.

Thursday had the Summer Nationals Hell Tour come to town, and we hosted more than 115 cars in just four classes. We had a tremendous crowd for a new weekday show that was normally just a test day, and the drivers all put on an excellent show. Congratulations to Gary Limron Jr. winning $400 and the Four Cylinder feature, and Jim Miller Jr. taking home $600 and the checkered flag in the Factory Stock event. Defending Modified champion David Mielke stole the show in the Summitt Modified feature race, fending off Chad Bauer and Aaron Morey for an all-local top three finish! And finally the Hell Tour UMP Late Models took center stage, and the big guns were ready to rock. Ryan Unzicker won the 50-lapper but didn’t win without a fight. Thank you to the entire Summer Nationals crew including Sam Drigger for providing a great experience for us and the race fans.

Day two and Friday came, with much cooler temperatures and overcast skies that felt more like October than mid-July. All of our divisions were in action in heat racing, dash for cash specials, and unique whip races which turned out to be a blast! We ran 44 individual races on Friday night! WOW! Thank you to the hard work of the staff in the pits to get things lined up and in order, as well as the drivers for being ready when they were called to the chute.

The third and final day of the Ed VanDuinen Wood Tic came with abundant sunshine and warmer weather once again! It was a picture perfect day… beautiful weather, a packed pit road, and later on a completely filled grandstands. It was the second busiest night since I bought Merritt, and what turned out to be incredible racing all night long. We ran more than 400 laps of green flag feature racing on Saturday alone, starting with last chances event, moving to our odd and even qualifier races for the Late Models and Modifieds, and on to feature action.

Congratulations to every race winner over the course of the three days of racing. Darren Bowers finally shook the overheating monkey off his back, getting to Lane Automotive victory lane on Saturday night in his Four Cylinder car. The Factory Stocks and Pro Stocks both had the fans on their feet for much of the races, with cars going three and four wide at times including for the lead. Mike Vandermark cleaned up on those two classes, scoring two huge wins in this years Wood Tic. Mike will need some more room on the mantle for those trophies to fit! Dick Stout drove his butt off, keeping Richie Sutherland out back and capturing the win in the entertaining Pro Truck division feature race on Saturday. Jordan Erickson led wire to wire in the only caution free feature of the night, winning his first Lightning Sprint feature of the season in his 027. Congratulations to his entire crew and thank you to the Lightning Sprints for putting on a wild and entertaining show. The B-Modifieds put on a fun race to watch, as they adapted and got quicker and quicker throughout the day and night Friday and Saturday. Chris Cohoon led the 11-cars to the checkered flag in the fun one-off special for these cars at Merritt.

13729097_1222429567821250_2116683905054655069_nWhat a thrill it was for me to watch two of the best UMP Late Model drivers go door to door lap after lap in their 50-lap feature race. David Mielke, winner of Thursdays Hell Tour race and defending track champion, and Jacob Poel, one of the winningest Mod drivers over the last several years, battled it out. Spring Lake, Michigan driver Jacob Poel muscled his way to the lead and to the win. Congratulations to Jacob on the win! Chad Bauer was hot on his heels for most the entire race and brought home second, with Mielke third, Dave Baker fourth, and Joe Rokos fifth.

If someone told me a week ago that Chad Finley was going to win the Wood Tic, I would’ve bet against it. In my past years of owning asphalt race teams, we have run against Chad on many occasions and he is always fast. Chad had a rocket on Saturday night, and kept it up front running back and forth for the lead with Sammy Eppling. Chris Brindley had a great run and charged to an impressive second place finish. Congratulations to Chad Finley and Jacob Poel on adding your names to 13729078_1222429564487917_4630696698948667052_nthe annual Wood Tic t-shirt.

We are excited to continue our weekly Saturday night racing, bringing the Late Models back with a special $1,500-to-Win and $250-to-Start this Saturday night. The Modifieds will have this weekend off, as want our regulars to be able to race with the Dirt Cup Tour and stay in the point standings there as well. Our Pro Stocks, Pro Trucks, Factory Stocks, and Four Cylinders will also all be in race action with everything starting at 7:00 p.m.

Family Night this Saturday with 2 Adult and 2 Child tickets costing just $25! Join us for the great deal and see some super racing.

Mike Blackmer

Mike’s Thoughts – July 11

What a beautiful Saturday we had last week! While it looked like it may be a washout on Friday, the sun came out early in the day Saturday and by the time we went to go racing it was perfect out and the track conditions were darn near perfect too!

27 Late Models filled the pits Saturday, with a total of 85 cars and two divisions having the night off. As mentioned, the track was in great condition to offer racing that showcased driver talent on Saturday night, and the surface continues to improve and come into its own. Congratulations to each of our feature winners from Saturday night… Eric Spangler going back to back in the UMP Late Model division, Andrew Scheid returning to snag the flag in the Lightning Sprints, Richie Sutherland again on top in his 7-11 Pro Truck, Jim Miller Jr. back in victory lane, and Chad Tomczak claiming the Four Cylinder victory. Thank you to all the competitors that joined us Saturday night.

A couple guys that tried but had a rough tumble, literally, experience on Saturday night. Past Champion David Hilliker broke a drive shaft going into turn three in qualifying, sending him end over end off the banking and on his lid. Good to see David, along with the other two competitors who went for wild rides on Saturday night all walk away and we look forward to having you each back with us to compete soon. As much as we don’t want to, its good see the safety equipment when truly tested, hold up and provide the opportunity to have our racers be able to walk away with only minor bumps and bruises when properly equipment with safety gear.

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WOOOOOOD TIIIICCCC! The time has come again, for the running of the 28th Annual Ed VanDuinen Wood Tic. This year is staged to be one of the more memorable events in its history, with the addition of the DIRTcar Summer Nationals Hell Tour joining us for a full night of racing on Thursday, leading into our Friday and Saturday shows! Don’t miss the $5,000-to-Win, $500-to-Start UMP Late Model special on Thursday, as they race for 40-laps and the big trophy. The Modifieds will also be on hand as part of the Hell Tour sanction, and will compete for $1,000-to-Win and $125-to-Start. Our local Factory Stock and Four Cylinder teams will also be on display with the big boys Thursday, with the Factory Stocks racing for $600-to-Win and $100-to-Start, while the Four Cylinders vie for $400-to-Win and $75-to-Start.

B-Modified Teams… There is really no correct way for us to enforce a tire rule for this event, since almost every track seems to have a different rule. With that being said, your style of car hasn’t raced at Merritt in, decades? To say there will be a distinct advantage on what tire is run, when everyone is completely green to the track, setup, etc. I think is not the case. The Hoosier G-60 is the preferred tire but it is an open tire rule, meaning that if you are legal at your “home” track, you will be legal with us and would love to have you all join us!

This Thursday night special is easily one of the top three biggest nights of racing at Merritt all season, so we encourage and ask for your support whether in competition or by spectating and enjoying what should be one damn good show. Adults can buy a three-day admission pass for only $30… which will be the best $30 you can spend for the entertainment anywhere in the Midwest, Thursday, Friday and Saturday!

We would like to thank I-96, Chrystal, and Mount Pleasant Speedways for working with us to accommodate the racers and allow them to race for the big money and fun show that the Wood Tic offers to them. One thing I’ve come to learn is that bonus programs and higher payouts to keep drivers at their local track don’t ultimately help anyone at the end of the day. While we always want to provide the best experience for our racers along with a great show for the fans, we understand that each track is entitled to operate however they choose. But it is certainly a shame to have to battle against tracks that are forcing the issue this season, as opposed to past years when we all worked together and how I’ve been told that all area tracks always gave their big guys the night off to participate in the fun of Wood Tic, or make their races a non-points night like we did for our Late Models on July 2nd to respect the American Ethanol Late Model Tour and their teams. Regardless, we will continue with the payouts and show that have been promised. Racers… on average, you will make as much or more just from our Friday night payout than you will during your average night of weekly racing. On top of it all, Saturday, we come back and offer extended feature racing, high payouts and the opportunity for a Late Model team to walk away with over $10,000 in cash winnings over the three days.

We are honored to carry on the Wood Tic tradition that Merritt Speedway has offered to the racing community for the last 27 straight seasons, and to continue and grow that tradition indefinitely. We invite all the racers, teams, and fans to join us Thursday, Friday, and Saturday for all the fun and excitement. We continue to strive and provide the best experience for every individual that sets foot on the Merritt property and believe that the 28th annual Ed VanDuinen Wood Tic will carry that on another week, and long into the future.

Hope to see you all Thursday!

Michael B

Mike’s Thoughts – July 5

REE_1426Wow! Saturday night was something else. We figured out how many people can and can not fit into the Merritt Speedway main grandstands and pit grandstands. For the first time in my track ownership days, I was sold completely out of grandstand seating with 7,430 tickets sold. It was very difficult to turn people away that wanted to watch and take part in the activities we had, but was also a good position to have to be in. It is rare that a short track these days sells out completely, and we were blessed with support last Saturday. THANK YOU!!!

We have the track’s second largest event payout, behind Augusts World of Outlaws two-day race, coming up on Thursday, July 14. Hopefully we can get support similar to what we saw last Saturday, for that huge race with the Hell Tour, so we can continue to host these special events and big races!

The concession and beer lines were long all night on Saturday, but we have not received a single complaint. Everything we’ve heard has been positive, and it seems like you all realized how challenging it is to staff in times like that, especially as a one time big race like that. But again, thank you for your outstanding support and understanding and cooperation.

The racing was very entertaining all night, and thank you to the more than 100 competitors that we had in the pits, even without a division on hand. Congratulations to the big winners on Saturday, all taking home trophies. Chad Foster, with his first career UMP Late Model Feature win, David Mielke continuing his winning ways, Rick Spencer, Dick Stout, Jim Miller Jr., and Scott Boyd all collecting their respective division features.

REE_1432Fireworks… again thank you for all the compliments! Great response to the show, that in all honesty should’ve been double the length and even bigger. One section of the show didn’t fire off and it would’ve should’ve been spectacular. We are glad that you all enjoyed it though!

This coming Saturday, we are going to do $1.00 Beer and $1.00 Hot Dogs! Come out and support our Lightning Sprint Showdown, a spotlight on our fastest regular division. And the following week is the previously mentioned Hell Tour race, leading into Friday and Saturday of the Wood Tic. There will be an open practice on Wednesday, July 13. We are excited with how the season has gone thus far and hope that you are too!

Looking forward to what’s to come and will see you at a race soon.

Mike B

JULY 2 – $5 ALL AGES & FIREWORKS!

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