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Mike’s Monday Thoughts – Sept. 21

Good Monday afternoon to everyone! Every few weeks we will be doing an update from myself, on the happenings around Merritt and racing things.

The process of creating a new racing surface is underway. Two feet of clay was removed off the top of the entire track, and new clay is being brought in beginning today as I write this. We are all very excited about this and really look forward to seeing it raced on next spring. Our staff continues work at the track daily, making small upgrades and improvements across the property.

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Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting Tri City Speedway for their Battle by the Bay event. It’s always a pleasure attending other area tracks races and seeing how they do things, and seeing Merritt regulars and other drivers compete. This past weekend I was at Berlin Raceway, accompanied by some Merritt friends and fans. Congratulations to Dona Marcoullier on coming home with a great sixth place finish in Saturdays World of Outlaws Late Model 60-lap feature. It was wild to see them go all 60-laps caution free. Congratulations also to Travis Stemler on winning the Michigan Dirt Cup Modified feature and good work to all our local guys who raced well this weekend.

We have started to pencil in dates for the 2016 race season and have some exciting things in the works. All of the longstanding traditions will continue, as well as our new events that were introduced last year. Stay tuned for detailed announcements that will be coming.

Reminder our season ending Awards Banquet will take place on Saturday, November 7 at the Wexford County Civic Center. We will hand out awards, have videos and showcase our champions. Tickets must be purchased in advance, no later than October 23, and will not be available at the door. It should be a fun night for everyone and we look forward to seeing you all again.

Mike Blackmer

Mike’s (Tuesday) Thoughts – Sept. 8

And just like that, my first season with Merritt is over with. 2015 was full of learning experiences, starting out a bit slow and I feel finishing strong with our Gene Kregear Championship Weekend.

The inaugural event on Saturday and Sunday was a pretty solid event, as we hosted more than 160 cars across the two days. Considering the uncertain weather on Saturday, the grandstands filled up nicely and did again Sunday even with the hot and muggy weather. Tons of $1.00 beer and hot dogs were sold all night, and the fireworks display was enjoyable to close out the night Sunday.

With seven divisions and two touring series, we had a ton of races and laps made last weekend. 37 Late Models showed up Saturday to race in our championship event, and put on a great show as usual with good runs by Greg Gokey, Ryan Vanderveen and Ed Reyes. Congratulations to Rich Neiser who took home the checkered flag. Sunday night 27 Late Models raced with us, and Rich Neiser picked up the checkered flag once again, in the Gene Playter Memorial 41 American Ethanol Series race. We want to congratulate Eric Spangler on his championship win in the Keyser Manufacturing Late Models and an outstanding season! Rich Neiser, Brook Brasington, Bill Bray, and Mike Kresnak rounding out the top five. The accident with the Dave Bowen was unfortunate, as of course we never like to see anyone get tangled up or in an accident like that. But I do feel the driver and everyone else involved, including myself, could learn from this.

David Mielke continued his winning ways, topping the 24 other Modifieds who showed up with the Michigan Dirt Cup Tour Saturday night. Brent Banning, Joe Rokos, Brian Brindley, and Aaron Morey were the top five. Sunday, Aaron Morey led and ran up front all race, and battled with Mielke to the finish. David picked up the win again Sunday, Morey second, Chad Bauer, Joe Rokos, and Brent Banning were the top five. I mentioned it earlier in the year, but it was an honor to have David Mielke race with us weekly this season, and congratulations to him on his title win in the Cadillac Tire Center Modifieds. Joe Rokos beat Brent Banning by just 4-points for second, Chad Bauer, and Travis Stemler were the top five.

The Lightning Sprint races were the only features of the weekend to go caution free, which I think everyone loved including myself. 11-year-old racer Andrew Scheid raced up through the field and passed for the lead in traffic, before capturing his first Merritt Speedway checkered flag. Sunday he backed it up, with another win to close out the season, over a great run by Lindsey Erickson who led much of the race. Congratulations to Mack Erickson on getting the Lightning Sprint Championship, after dominating this season with five wins and 12 top five finishes. Lindsey Erickson, Chuck Erickson, Tom Hunt, and Justin Ward round out the top five.

Dick Stout and his green 66 Pro Truck got to the winners circle for the first time this season on Saturday, and rode the wave of momentum right back to his second win of the year Sunday. Bobby Liuzzo Jr. wins the Hardcore Performance Pro Truck championship, over Bob Hammar, Gary Hammar, Jerry Mynarcik, and Dick Stout round out the top five in Pro Truck points, of 16 total trucks the competed in the division in 2015.

Tim Near was the big winner on Saturday night in the Pro Stocks, and we had a great field of cars on hand with 22 cars. T.J. Erickson, Dan Hersey, Chris Peyerk, and Steven Hilliker were the top five Saturday. Sunday Chris Peyerk snagged the win, his first of the season, over Steven Hilliker, Rick Spencer, Ritchie Sutherland, and Archie Miles were first five. Steven Hilliker was the man most of the season, racking up 10 wins and 14 top fives in his 16 starts. Congratulations to him on an outstanding season, as well as Rick Spencer, Bob Timmer, Chris Peyerk, and Ritchie Sutherland who were the rest of the top five.

The Factory Stock division saw 53 different drivers come and chase the checkered flag throughout the season, but Jim Miller Jr. showed the way for a lot of the year. Jim won the feature races on both Saturday and Sunday, as well as captured the division title with nine impressive victories and finished in the top 10 in every one of his starts. Kevin Miller, Will Stanley, Doug Patterson, Eric Lake, Kendall Marlink, and Mike Roe all had great runs last weekend. Congratulations to Kenny Keller, Jacob Flickinger, Vern Smith, and Aaron Spearling who finished in the class’ top five season points.

Last but most definitely not least, is our 4-Cylinder division. Nick Jenema powered to a win on Saturday, over Dale Sunderman and Dwight Crawford. Crawford won Sunday, fending off Dirk Vanauken, Chad Tomczak and Radian Schmidt. Congratulations to Chad Tomczak on winning the the division championship, scoring six victories on the year. Dwight Crawford, also had a great season with four wins, followed by Dirk Vanauken, Radian Scmidt, and William Sian rounding out the top five in final points.

The goal of paying out everyone at the bar following the races Sunday, was to be able to personally say thank you and talk with the drivers as we finished the year. We wanted to provide a nice atmosphere for everyone, offering free food, live music, bonfires, and just a good time. With the over 150 cars we had, coupled with a later than hoped evening on Sunday made this a bit longer and later and thus created a challenge. The intent was good, but probably not something I will do again in the future as we continue to learn and try new things and go through the process. Thank you though to everyone who had nice things to say and still made it a fun night.

Stay tuned this week for banquet information and as well as the coming weeks as we begin to make announcements regarding 2016. Thank you once again to everyone who had a part of making this first season a success and enjoyable for me and our staff, and we look forward to continuing to grow and make things bigger and better.

Mike Blackmer

Mike’s Monday Thoughts – Aug 31

Our second to final weekend of racing looked a bit uncertain earlier in the day with the poor weather. As it turned out we were one of very few tracks to race in the state once again it appears, and so the racecars come flyin’ in. We had more than 100 cars on the speedway property and after the track got ran in a little bit, we had some excellent and wicked fast racing. Thanks to the staff and all the drivers for working hard to get the track in race condition, allowing us to start on time right at 7:00 p.m.

I will start out with the Late Models with what seemed to be, based on cheers from the crowd, the most popular win of the year. Multi-time Merritt champion Frank Seder went back to victory lane for the first time this season, after coming out of retirement and racing with us almost all season. We had 24 Late Models on the property and the feature was thrilling and bad fast. Always hate to see cars get torn up like we had Saturday, in what looked like hard racing with just a handful of laps to go on the restart. Thanks to all the teams that came out and hopefully we will have everyone back for the big championship weekend.

Our Modifieds put on another great race Saturday night. Joe Rokos looked really strong for much of the race and was good to see him race in the lead, battling with Stemler, Baker, Banning and others. David Mielke yet again showed his muscle, pulling it out with just a couple laps to go and returning to victory lane. As I said about Late Models, this weekend should prove to be a fun weekend for the Modifieds, with a lot to race for.

Neat to see Rick Irwin in the Lighting Sprints, and Nate Jones in the Pro Stocks get their first victories at Merritt this season. Also congratulations to Kenny Keller, Chad Tomczak, and Bobby Liuzzo Jr. on their victories. With all those cars we had damn good racing throughout the entire night and the fans in the stands seemed to enjoy it all. It was ladies free night on Saturday and was a pleasure to see the stands fill up quite well considering the weather, and having the drivers put on a great show.

The season ending Awards Banquet will be held at the Wexford County Civic Center, on Saturday, November 7. Happy Hour will begin at 6:00 p.m., and the awards and dinner at 7:00. A reminder that drivers must be in attendance to collect their championship prize monies. This should be a great event, to celebrate our champions and bench race about 2015. Tickets will be available at the speedway on Saturday at the tire barn, as well as the souvenir trailer on the concourse. If you haven’t been to one of my banquets, you are in for a treat.

This Saturday we close things out with our Gene Kregear Championship Weekend, with all seven of our divisions determining their champion! Late Model championship will be Saturday night, with the American Ethanol Late Model championship settled Sunday night. The Modified title will be determined on Sunday, with the Michigan Dirt Cup Modifieds racing with us Saturday. The Lighting Sprints, Pro Stocks, Pro Trucks, Factory Stocks, and 4-Cylinders will all race both Saturday and Sunday, with their championships awarded Sunday. We will NOT be starting races by points, so all drivers from all tracks are welcome and we will be pill drawing both nights for our classes. Races start at 7:00 on Saturday, and 6:00 on Sunday. Sunday will also have $1.00 beer and hot dogs, and a big fireworks show and post race party. Everyone come on out for the weekend, as we have free camping for everyone and enjoy your labor day at the speedway! I can’t wait.

See everyone on Saturday and Sunday!

Mike Blackmer

Engine Pro Championship Weekend Information

Racing is at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday – 6:00 p.m. Sunday
Camping is absolutely free


Mike’s Monday Thoughts – Aug 24

Another week in the book and yet again another great night of racing we had last Saturday! What does $1,600-to-win and $250-to-start get you in the modified division? Arguably one of the best races seen at Merritt Speedway in quite some time, so I’ve heard from countless people after the races and via messages and emails. Fantastic crowd got to witness a very entertaining evening at Merritt.

I feel we had one elite group of racers for the Dirt Cup feature Saturday, with David Mielke grabbing yet another checkered flag. It wasn’t easy though, having to race up through and fending off the likes of Brent Banning, Aaron Morey, Jacob Poel, and Travis Stemler amongst many others. Without that late caution, I think Banning had it wrapped up but congratulations to Mielke and fantastic race to the entire field.

Thank you to each and every driver and team that came up and raced with us, spanning a pretty wide distance with the open wheel group in town. The SOD Sprints, MTS Sprints, Lightning Sprints, and MORA Sprints put on damn good races. Really it was a fantastic night of racing across the board when I look back on it. And for keeping the ticket price at $12 like our regular nights, with the divisions we had, was really great to see the place full.

Hard to believe we are down to just 2 more weekends and 3 more event nights. Where did the season go? I’ve learned a ton and enjoy it all more each passing week. This Saturday is ladies night, so all the ladies are invited out and get free grandstand admission. We have all seven divisions racing so it should be another solid and exciting night.

Labor Day Weekend we hold our Championships and I am hoping to build that into a big annual weekend event. The Dirt Cup Tour will be with us on that Saturday, and the Modifieds will have the chance to race for big money as we are partnered with Hartford for a combined points and payout opportunity. The American Ethanol Late Models race with us on Sunday the 6th, and they will also have the chance to win big money that weekend. If a driver wins both Friday at Cherry Speedway, and Merritt on Saturday, they will receive a $1,000 bonus presented by Performance Engineering. Camping is free at Merritt for the rest of the season, and we will have $1.00 Beer & Hot Dogs and a big Fireworks show on Sunday the 6th. We will also have a post race party that night.

Hope to see everyone on Saturday night!

Mike Blackmer

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