Mike’s Thoughts – May 31

Wow, what a difference a week makes! Joe and the staff put in a ton of work last week to get the track turned back around and into what we saw on Saturday night. I feel even without the rain, that the track would’ve been in great shape to race. Greg Gokey said that the track surface was easily one of the best he has raced on in many years, win or not. So we are thrilled with the direction of the track surface already.

The disappointing part, was how many of the regular drivers that have been with us since the start of my ownership in 2015, that left to race elsewhere after just one week. The interesting dynamic to that is we still had over 100 cars, including 21 fast Late Models and 19 great Modifieds. This might be the changing of the guard, but hopefully we see many of our previous regulars return to us again and make for some even stronger fields. Thank you so much to each of the drivers that came to the track and raced on Saturday and stuck by our side. We cannot express our gratitude enough to all of you, fans, drivers, teams, sponsors, and anyone else who was there.

Rain stopped us right in the middle of Late Model qualifying, and ended up putting us an hour behind schedule. With that delay, we decided it best to cut heat races for some of the classes and just add 5 laps to most features. The Factory Stock Feature was the first race event out, and it was a bit challenging as the surface was still pretty slick, even with almost the entire property of race cars helping us to pack the track after the rain. Due to the slick track that the Factory Stocks raced on, we want to make it up to them this weekend by paying $500-to-win and $100-to-start!

Everybody put on a great show for the race fans from start to finish. The Late Models where 3-wheelin and 2-wheelin it at times since the track had so much grip. It was a ton of fun to watch all the races and we once again want to thank you all for coming to Merritt to race with us.

One more cool announcement for today… Pro Stocks beginning this weekend, will pay $500-to-win every event for the rest of 2016, regardless of car count. Sweet Grafix has stepped up to be the division sponsor and is making this possible.

TOMORROW… Announcements regarding the Merritt Showdown payout, which is right around the corner! Stay tuned for that and other neat things that we have going on as well.

I hope to see you all at the track Saturday! Have a great week!

Mike B

Mike’s Thoughts – May 23

It is wild how one year ago versus this year, my feelings are so incredibly different. In 2015, we were overwhelmed with cars and fans, which was a great thing. This year, the same thing happened, and that was great too, but the track was 180 degrees different. Last year the track was full of wood chips and brine, and provided a competitive surface for the fans to watch races. The flip side was every driver complaining, rightfully so, about how their tires were getting chewed up so badly…

So, we committed a tremendous amount of hours and dollars to resurface the entire speedway with clean 90% clay and 10% dirt. Using a new chemical on the surface, we thought we had great success with it on Wednesday night, followed it up by applying more, Thursday and Friday with the watering, and felt like the surface would be very race ready come Saturday. Obviously, it wasn’t. And there is nobody that was more embarrassed or frustrated than I was on Saturday. It’s not like I woke up one day and said, I wanna ruin Merritt Speedway.

We are dedicated to fixing this problem and have already purchased a smaller water truck for quick watering if needed between races, as well as talking with other promoters about how they’ve handled this problem in the past. One thing they all say, is this is dirt track race after all, and dust should be expected. But we will get this fixed, and need the drivers and fans to remain supportive as we fix the issue at hand.

As far as the small pit pass price increase to $28, this is simply matching what other short tracks in Michigan have been going to. I understand that a change after all that many years might be disappointing. We offer one of the highest payouts across all dirt tracks in the state and short of lowering our payout, the pit pass prices will stay at $28. Children’s passes have not increased and won’t be adjusted.

As far as the actual racing, it was pretty darn good. There were some heavy hitters on hand for our Modified and Late Model divisions and we thank each and every driver across all our classes for their tremendous support. Jacob Poel, one of the top drivers anywhere around said this to me on Sunday… “Hey Mike.  Thanks for all the effort you have put into Merritt.  I was not disappointed and will not throw you under the bus for the dusty conditions.  Every track I have ever been on that has been resurfaced (16 years dirt only experience) is one of two conditions. Hammer down and terribly rough or super dry and dusty.   I would much rather have it like it was last night compared to rough any day of the week.   It’s also best for the track to get a good solid base built when resurfacing which you have established now.” He went on to say “I know every body and their brothers are probably trying to tell you what to do right now but I hope you seriously consider doing exactly as I just mentioned.  By the way I would also much rather race on what we had last night then what Merritt has been in the past.  That brine/ chloride combination is aweful on everyone’s race cars.  So once again thanks for all the effort you are putting into Merritt and I look forward to my next visit.”

For $7, even though it was pretty dusty, I think we had a good show and entertainment for everyone. The concession lines were long, but we were packed and that was spectacular! Thank you thank you thank you, and sorry about the dust. Like I said, we will have this fixed, no matter what it takes.

This coming weekend we are honoring all Veterans and Active Military personnel, as well as Police and First Responders with Free Admission. Tickets for Adults are $12, Children 6-12 $5, and 5-under Free. All seven divisions are racing and we will be having the Best Appearing Car Awards as well.

My last note… To all you drivers, teams, and race fans… Don’t quit on us. I am pouring my heart and soul in to this race track as I think you all know deep down. Leaving us to race or watch elsewhere will only take Merritt down and we need your continued support that you’ve provided since we started in 2015. Let’s work together to make this something special.

Merritt Showdown Tickets Including Meet & Greet Now On Sale

Click on the image below to open up and download the PDF link. Then just print and send in! :)

Meet & Greet Tickets, are also available for purchase online, by clicking HERE.

Ticket Order Form

Mike’s Monday Thoughts – May 9

What to do, what to do, what to do. Race week is finally upon us, and mother nature is still being grumpy. The current forecast shows for a high of 49 on Saturday with winds over 20 miles per hour. While we know the car counts should be great and there is a high amount of excitement and anticipation, it’s a tough situation. Fans, will you come out regardless of the anticipated cold weather we will have come 7:00 p.m. on Saturday?

On to last Saturday, where we kicked up some…dust. Track preparation was limited going in to Saturday, and the combination of new clay with no brine in it, as well as the surface being saturated a couple inches down, made it difficult to correct on the fly. We did our best and since then have been hard to work to correct things. The track was disked on Sunday to open it up, we have a new chemical that will be going down on Tuesday and we should be more than race ready with a fast track come Saturday!

Tickets for the Thursday, June 9 special will be available beginning on Saturday at the Souvenir Trailer! This includes both general admission and hospitality meet and greet tickets. Tickets can be purchased online, as well as a mail-in-form will be available beginning this weekend.

Saturday’s racing will include $3,000-to-Win for the Keyser Manufacturing UMP Late Models, and $1,000-to-win for the Cadillac Tire Center UMP Modifieds! This will hopefully attract large car counts and great racing for the fans.

If you have not already submitted your registration, W9, or minor release forms, you will need to have those with you. To expedite the process for everyone, click the link HERE and you can print those off to bring with you. We will also be enforcing the pit stall purchases and placements. You can see what spot you bought and where it is HERE. Please come to the track with patience, as you work through the pit pass, and registration lines. Make sure you have your transponder number handy if you are a new driver. Transponders and Raceceivers will both be for available for purchase if you need either, at the registration tent.

The pit gate will open at 2:30 p.m. this week, hot laps for everyone beginning at 5:00, Late Model qualifying at 5:45, and racing at 7:00 sharp. If you arrive after 5:00, you will start at the tail of one of your divisions heats. We will pill draw all divisions (except Late Models) for heat lineups, and there will be a re-draw depending on car count, to set the feature lineups following the heats. Payout this year will be done like past years, and located at the front ticket office window.

If there is one thing that I know… it’s that Merritt race fans and drivers are DEDICATED! But, let me know your thoughts as to if we should race no matter the weather, or if you may not attend because of the cold forecast.

We can’t wait for Saturday and hope you feel the same!

See you there!

Mike Blackmer

Mike’s Thoughts – April 29

Happy Friday to everyone,

What a difference a year makes! Last year, there had already been tons of work done out at the speedway, from asphalt and cement being poured and placed, to paint going on nearly every surface, new fencing, etc. etc. This year, we can’t seem to get a dry week to get far on a couple projects. Coupled with that, the new racing surface has a ton of moisture in it and is the reason we were forced to cancel tomorrows first scheduled test and tune. We will do our best for next weekend, but stay tuned to the website in case the wet weather continues. Hopefully that announcement was made earlier enough for everyone to be able to make alternative plans or free up your weekend, as we get set to dial it up for a long but fun summer ahead!

Very excited to have sold more than 120 pit stalls, to drivers currently committed to racing at Merritt for the 2016 season.

The Merritt Showdown continues to grow, as the second annual event had a few additional announcements made regarding it last week. Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney will join Rusty and Kenny Wallace on the Thursday, June 9 special. The guys will meet with fans in the paid hospitality event, much like we did last year with Matt Kenseth. Tickets for that will be on sale soon, and we are thrilled to host them for this years Showdown – a can’t miss Thursday night special.

Kevin Striegle has been brought on to a full time position for Merritt Speedway beginning with the 2016 season, and will serve as General Manager and oversee the race operations side of things this year. Kevin was with us last year part time, and has worked in the role of race director previously for a couple years as well as filling various other positions. He has been an employee of mine for nearly a decade on and off and I am very happy to have him on Merritt full time now. If you have any questions on race day or during the week, feel free to contact him at 616-250-6211 via text or call, as well as [email protected].

A heads up for opening night, May 14 to all drivers… We are going to be one hour ahead on everything, to ensure we start on time at 7:00 p.m. and can work through all the opening night obstacles that are normal. Time will be announced later, but plan to come early and enjoy opening night 2016 with us! And be sure to tell your friends and neighbors that tickets for all ages in the grandstand are just $7!

Until then…

Mike Blackmer

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Contact Our Office: 231-328-RACE(7223)
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