Happy hump day! I hope you all had an enjoyable weekend, and also took time to remember the lives lost fighting to protect our freedom. It was our honor to recognize members of the armed forces last Saturday, and will never forget those who have been lost.
Finally, we were able to start the 2017 racing season! What a start it was… 144 cars on the property was quite a sight to see. I cannot thank the fans, drivers, crews and everyone else enough for making opening night such a success. I sincerely thank all of my full-time speedway staff for working countless hours to get the track ready for race day. While the first event will always have its bumps in the road, all-in-all, I feel last Saturday went quite well. Thank you everyone.
I appreciate all the very kind outpouring of compliments regarding the new facility upgrades that were able to be enjoyed for the first time on Saturday. The handicap seating area was very popular, providing a proper viewing angle and area to see and enjoy the action. That, coupled with the new bleachers as a whole, along with the paved concourse and entry area seemed popular. On Saturday, we turned on just the old lights until it was time for feature racing, before turning on the new big bright tall Musco lights. It was neat to see the excitement that this seemed to add to the fans and drivers alike, and I can’t tell you how many drivers said they were thrilled with how bright the track was. All needed improvements, now all in place, and without the dedicated Merritt staff, none of it would’ve been possible.
Thank you to everyone who purchased 50/50 tickets that benefited Deb & Steve Bowman. Steve is battling Lou Gehrig's disease, and your support is tremendously appreciated as we were able to give $1,050 to them.
All the divisions had high car counts, which made for really great feature racing in every class. The 22 UMP Late Models on hand put on a great show, as always, including the re-introduction of the Fast Car Dash, presented by Hardcore Performance. Dona Marcoullier swept both of those two events, winning night one in his 6m, over Eric Spangler and Nick Kurtz. Late Models… in accordance with the DIRTcar UMP rulebook, right rear tires may no longer be grooved beginning with this weekend.
The new B Modifieds went flag to flag without a caution, which was pretty darn impressive, especially considering it was the divisions first official race. Cody Bauer picked up the victory, but John Taylor put up one heck of a fight and were nose to tail for pretty much all 25-laps. The entire field was extremely competitive and we thank every driver and team that showed up to chase the $1,000-to-win pay and enjoyed the night at Merritt.
Lightning Sprints had a nice field of 19 cars on the property, including a couple new faces in this exciting division that’s now sponsored by Cadillac News. Anthony Whitehead, Lindsey Erickson, and Andrew Scheid picked up the heat race wins, and the defending division champion 13-year-old Scheid also collected the feature win, edging a fast closing Mack Erickson, and Jordan Erickson third.
Bay City resident Rob Westergard showed the way in another competitive feature, this time from the Pro Stock division. The #27 had to hold off challenges from several other throughout the feature, including eventual runner up and 2016 Pro Truck champ Richie Sutherland, and third place finisher Marc Super. 23 Pro Stocks raced on opening night, and with $1,000-to-win on the line this Saturday, June 3, that division should have another fantastic group of competitors with us!
The Factory Stocks were the final feature of the night, and turned out to be the most challenging race of the evening, with numerous caution flags. The highly competitive class, which saw 21 cars start the feature, had lots of three-wide racing and several lead changes. In the end, Will Stanley won the $1,000 prize, over Sternberg, Spencer, Rake, and Miller.
Twenty Four Cylinders showed up Saturday, to begin an exciting year for the division that includes several huge payouts including $1,500-to-win on Wednesday, June 14. Austin Harnick, Dirk Vanauken, and Chad Tomczak won the heat races, and defending Four Cylinder champ Tomczak also got the feature win.
Our other new full-time division in 2017 is the addition of Mini Wedges on a bi-weekly basis. On Saturday morning, the track was largely flooded and after working on it all afternoon to make it dry enough to race, it had gotten a little rough. I want to personally make a promise to all 11 Wedge cars that showed up and others thinking about it in the future, that the track will be much smoother and raceable in future events. That aside, those youngsters put on really great races and we love to hear the fans reacting to them during their races. Congratulations to all the little racers, and Preston Mieske and Katie Robinson on their victories!
For our Pro Stock, Factory Stocks, and Four Cylinders… keep the car counts up! Any time we have over 20 cars start the feature, starting pay will increase by $25! And again, thank you all who showed up to race and put on truly great races for the fans. One helps the other, and we can continue building and growing, implementing more improvements for fans and drivers, if we stay on this path!
Looking forward to seeing you all this Saturday night!