Hello everyone! It’s been a few weeks since my last thoughts update. I hope everyone’s off-season is going well. With this unseasonably warm winter, it has me in race mode already, and I’m guessing many of you feel the same way.
Last Thursday, we met with the great folks at Mount Pleasant Speedway, to go over how we can more closely partner together in 2017 and beyond. Betty, Chuck, and Jay all were very open to our ideas as we shared back and forth. The goal is to save our drivers costs, and to provide them with a more uniform means to racing without having to make changes between speedways. With this, we hope to see more cars at each respective race track, which in turn will provide better racing for the fans, equaling more eyes on their cars and the driver’s sponsors, thus enhancing their return on investment, and enhanced fan experience and entertainment.
Mt Pleasant will piggyback on several of our previously announced special events, to offer various classes increased pay, providing incentive for drivers to come to our area, and stay here to race for more money and have less travel.
Rules: Both tracks will implement the same safety standards. For 2017 we ask UMP Late Model drivers to have a Full Containment Seat and Fire Suppression System, installed and operational by August 1st. Safety is of paramount importance, but we also recognize the costs involved for teams and therefore are trying to work with everyone to provide the best solution possible. Although UMP has not released their official 2017 rules yet, this is what Mt Pleasant and Merritt will be doing. As for the Hell Tour and World of Outlaw Late Model races at Merritt, competitors will need to meet the complete UMP rule book for that respective group.
B-Modified rules will be identical at both Merritt and Mt Pleasant. Both tracks will can swap out Rev Limiting Chips at any time, at their own discretion, to ensure they haven’t been altered. Lightning Sprints will now be an official Merritt Speedway class, and they will follow the new United States Auto Club Lightning Sprint rules, which are available now. The Pro Trucks join our Pro Stock class in 2017, and there will be just a few alternations to the Truck rules as they apply for the upcoming year. Factory Stocks will see just a few minor tweaks as well. Four Cylinders will no longer be allowed to have an emergency brake of any kind inside the car, and must have the hardware removed as well. All rules will be posted to the new Merritt Speedway website this week. Questions should be directed to Josh Harrington, at 989-745-2648. MERRITT SPEEDWAY WILL CONTINUE TO HAVE A NO CLAIM RULE ON ANY ITEM, FOR ALL DIVISIONS.
One item that many of you may find very interesting, blindsided very hard last week. As you all know, we have added a B Modified division to our lineup of premier classes for 2017. This has been welcomed with open arms by racers and fans alike, and we have been excited about this new type of car and racing to our speedway.
Last Thursday night, I received the most aggressive, disrespectful, negative, and all around counter-productive phones call of my 20 plus years in professional business and race track ownership. IMCA determined it necessary to threaten me with lawyers and attorneys, for posting a LINK to their B Modified rule book. While we were trying to unify rules, and simplify things for drivers in the state of Michigan by seamlessly incorporating the IMCA rulebook, we were attacked and told that they wanted absolutely nothing to do with Merritt Speedway now or ever in the future. Not only did they communicate that fact, but I have truly never in my LIFE been treated so poorly while trying to simply operate my business. I was utterly shocked and disgusted by their manor of communication and method of handling what I didn’t even realize was a ‘situation’. The same person that stood up in the last promoters meeting, asking us to help IMCA expand in the state of Michigan, was the same individual that swore they would have zero affiliation with Merritt Speedway. Well thanks to that phone call and more follow up communications since then, there is no way in hell I will ever allow IMCA to be part of my speedway, or allow them to abuse Merritt drivers the way they did me, a track promoter. I have a gut feeling there is more to this story with other IMCA tracks in the state, but that’s neither here nor there. If people wonder why we have not worked closer with Tri City or Crystal, this illustrates a pretty clear picture as to why. We aren’t allowed to.
On that, we want to thank Sammy and the entire UMP DIRTcar racing family for all they do for Merritt Speedway, their touring series, and their efforts they put into motorsports. Merritt wouldn’t be what it is without UMP. We had a minor issue at the end of last year, that both UMP and myself learned from and know better now. The nice part about that, is it was handled professionally.
To finish on a higher note, we are very excited about all the overwhelmingly positive feedback we’ve received regarding our 2017 season schedule. Between all the traveling series making stops with us, to the five increased specials for all our divisions, and other neat fan incentives, we are excited and the feeling seems to be matched by racers and fans across the board. The schedule demands support from racers and fans in the stands, but we are confident that with our fair and low priced grandstand ticket costs, we will be able to fill the new aluminum bleachers to see some excellent racing all year long under the new Musco lights.
Lastly and maybe most important, the American Ethanol Mini Wedge Association sanction will compete bi-weekly at Merritt in 2017. We’re pleased to announce that all Mini Wedge drivers will be admitted free to the pit area every week they are racing (must still sign waiver and get band)! Along with that, we’ll be keeping weekly results and points as the Mini Wedges will be a formal class at Merritt Speedway, and we will be tracking point standings and awarding Scholarship monies to the top 10 point earners.
Thank you everyone for your ongoing support and interest in Michigan’s Premier Dirt Track. We are thrilled with what the future holds and look forward to it beginning.