Another week is in the record book as we keep cruising through the 2015 season. Racing action last Saturday was once again great by all accounts, as we hosted the Engine Pro Sprints on Dirt and MORA Mini Outlaw Sprints along with five of our regular classes. Thanks to the SOD group for providing an exciting feature race and coming up to run with us.
During the second Lightning Sprint heat race, driver Johnny Roberts got tangled up and flipped going in to turn one. The speedway safety staff along with the ambulance crew and fire department folks all did a wonderful job taking every precaution possible to ensure his safety. Johnny has a broken arm, and is hoping to be released from the hospital in the next day or two.
This Saturday night we will have a 50/50 raffle, with proceeds going to the Roberts family to help pay for any medical and other related costs.
Merritt Speedway has been promoted as Northern Michigan’s Premier Dirt Track for awhile now, and I continue to see why that is. We have had fantastic crowds at every event thus far, and our goal to keep ticket prices low and provide exciting and entertaining family friends events has been a success. All the support from the community that we have received will allow us to continue to put on special events and make Merritt grow stronger along the way.
This Saturday is Factory Stock and 4-Cylinder night, as these two divisions are put in the spotlight. Factory Stocks will pay $400-to-win and $100-to-start this Saturday night, presented by Cadillac Tire Center, and the 4-Cylinders will pay $500-to-win presented by Don’s Auto Clinic. The Pro Trucks have the week off but all other divisions will be back in action on Saturday!
Pro Trucks… it has been great to see your division continue to grow as we discussed a few weeks ago. With the support from Hardcore Performance, we have been able to keep this class going and with one more truck (10) we will be able to increase your division’s payout. Pro Stocks, we had a smaller car count last week and need to try and keep that class strong (10 or more cars) in order to keep your payout up. All in all the car counts and division support across the board has been fantastic and I want to thank the drivers, teams, car owners, family, and everyone else involved who help put these cars on the track every week.
I want to remind all the drivers that you must have your Engine Pro Championship Point Fund decal on both sides of the car by this week, and every week moving forward, to receive the point fund dollars that will be paid out at the year end banquet. Late Model, Modified, and Pro Truck division decals must also be on for those three respective divisions, in order to receive your night’s payout each week.
Fans make sure you bring the kids out and sign up for our bicycle giveaway presented by Hardcore Performance! I hope to see everyone Saturday night.
Well after a beautiful Wednesday night of weather for the showdown event, we were bound to get washed out on Saturday. Even though the weathermen forecasted a sunny Saturday all week, it of course was cold and rainy. From the time I left Grand Rapids until when I arrived at the track, the temperature went down 22 degrees. The track was extremely wet and was in no condition to race, coupled with the continuing rain at the track in afternoon and cold air temp.
Thank you once again to everyone for the continued positive messages, emails, and texts from Wednesdays race. From our sponsors who saw the largest crowd at the track in recent memory, to the fans who enjoyed a full night of fantastic race action. Thank you to the drivers and teams who invested their day at the track and who made the inaugural race a success and put on a great show. We are already working on the second annual event, with some big plans and ideas in the works!
The 4-Cylinder special as well as the Modified Bonus Challenge, which were both scheduled to run last Saturday, will be made up on Saturday, June 27. Due to the rainout last week, fans may use their showdown adult ticket stub to save $4.00 off admission, on August 8.
Our focus is now shifted to getting ready for the 27th Annual Ed VanDuinen Wood Tic Weekend presented by Keyser Manufacturing. Stay tuned to the Facebook page and website for some announcements regarding this great tradition! Also a reminder to our fans and supporters of the track that on July 4, we have $5.00 tickets for all ages plus a big fireworks show!
This Saturday we welcome the winged warriors of the Engine Pro Sprints on Dirt, who will compete at Merritt for the first of two times this season. Also racing is the MORA Mini Outlaw Sprints, and five of our local divisions! I hope to see every out for another great night at the track.
Thank you so much to every single person that came out to last night’s inaugural race! We couldn’t have asked for better weather and support from all the fans and racers in attendance. This turned out to be a truly special event for Merritt Speedway and one that I hope will be remembered positively for many years. Thank you for all the messages, emails, and text messages from everyone sharing how much you enjoyed your night at the track. I am very thankful for the allegiance from so many of you and the continued support of this fantastic speedway. Thank you to Don’s Auto Clinic for stepping up as the presenting sponsor of this keystone event.
For being just our fourth event since taking over the ownership of the speedway, I feel that most things ran smoothly. Being the inaugural though, as with any first time event, we had our hiccups along the way. We had an incredible count of 146 cars turn laps last night, and then all the crews, family, and friends that came to support each driver.
4-Cylinder drivers, teams, and folks involved with this class… I sincerely apologize for the way things played out for you. We were blessed with a huge total car count, but it also resulted in the track needing more work to be done to it to ensure great feature racing. With the late audible call to have your class run to help the show keep moving, things were a little mixed up, but we did our best given the circumstances. When the lights went out we had no choice but to call the race, due to the time of night, and to keep the show moving along for everyone on the property. I fully realize that you put in the same amount of time at the track, and paid the same price to get in and race. Because of that we moved the payout up for every driver from $75 to $120 each (Winner got $150). Nearly every driver that participated received this overwhelmingly positive and we thank you for that. The one team that did not handle the change properly, a Mount Pleasant staff member, expressed anger and physical threats to the management and myself. That will not at any time be tolerated and they have been banned from Merritt Speedway.
We are committed to growing the 4-cylinder division and providing an affordable option for new people to become involved in the sport we all love so much. Please do not let Wednesdays misfortunes shine a bad light that. When we announced our 2015 schedule, June 13 has been advertised as our Merritt Moola 4-Cylinder Clash. We will be paying $500-to-win to the 4-Cylinders Saturday and really hope that all of you come back and race with us again!
Pro Stocks put on a fantastic race and had another huge car count for this division that continues to grow at our speedway. The same goes for the Lightning Sprints, whose field was the biggest of the year at 19 cars. Thanks to all you guys for putting on a show for the packed grandstands.
The Late Model and Modified races were excellent, with constant passing and three wide racing. The reason they were able to put on such a great race, is because we watered the track heavier during the intermission. Compared to the heat race tire wear, to what was seen in the features was night and day for both classes, and really changed the dynamic of the racing and allowed for spectacular races. The heavier watering is what caused the show to be slightly delayed and the reason we had to use our 4-Cylinder division to run in the track and then their feature race. This is a huge positive takeaway from the event, that will allow us to know what the best track conditions are for racing and to help racers not burn up their tires quickly like had been case.
While having a packed pit area is the goal for every race promoter, it also takes more manpower and literal power to keep up with it all. With all the trucks, trailers, and toters that we had in the pits, it put enough of a draw on our power to the speedway that we lost it all together for a short time. This issue was resolved after the first incident at a previous event this year and was upgraded to help prevent it from happening again. Obviously that did not work and we are now working with Consumers Energy to rectify the situation moving forward. We apologize for the situation and realize that it made the night a late one, while the bulbs cooled and refired, but rest assured we are addressing every issue that comes up as we continue to upgrade the facility and provide amenities for race teams, fans, and everyone.
Thank you to Dow Chemical, American Ethanol, and all of our Matt Kenseth Meet and Greet attendees. We apologize for any initial confusion there may have been but after speaking with and hearing from many of you, know that it was an enjoyable event. Sorry to anyone who did not know we were sold out of paid meet and greet tickets prior to your arrival and we will continue to refine these processes for future hospitality events that we have, now that the first is behind us.
Looking ahead to the 2nd Annual Merritt Summer Showdown, we will race fewer divisions and reconfigure the race order to provide a smoother and faster event. The purpose of having five divisions was to give each of them an opportunity to race in front of more fans and with some big names for the special event. Our support is for our weekly racers and we will continue to do everything we can to grow our divisions and provide quality races for the fans.
Thank you once again for everyone who spent their Wednesday night at Merritt Speedway! We are only human and are continually growing and learning as we move through each event. Please be patient as our growing pains are worked out and I promise to provide everyone with one of the best dirt track in the area for fans, drivers, teams and everyone in between. I truly appreciate your ongoing support as well as constructive feedback and look forward to hosting you all at another event in the near future.