The Next Chapter Begins
The vision of Merritt Speedway became a reality in 1967 under the construction and management of Gene and Mary Ann Kregear. Gene built the, then 1/4 mile, track and entertained fans for one race during its first season. In 1968 the doors opened for its first full season, and Gene and Mary Ann continued to run it for several more years. In 1979, Gene and Mary Ann sold the track to Phil Fuller who ran it for two years. Ed and Carmen VanDuinen, son-in-law and daughter of Gene and Mary Ann, became the owners and promoters of the race track in 1981. For the next twenty-five years, Merritt Speedway grew and became the premiere dirt track in Michigan under Ed and Carmen’s management. In 2006, Ed and Carmen leased the track to Rod and Johnna Ancel. Rick and Sally Ancel became the promoters in 2009. The 2013 season will see, yet again, a new set of owners. This time, however, Merritt Speedway is back in the family. Steve and Stacey Potter, son-in-law and daughter of Ed and Carmen VanDuinen, are excited to promote this prestigious race track and have it return to the family once again.
Steve and Stacey have been around racing most of their lives. Stacey began working at Merritt at an early age, doing everything from making cotton candy and cleaning restrooms to helping her mom manage the concession stands. Steve began working at the track while he was in high school. With Stacey’s background as a high school teacher and Steve’s experience of running his other company, Xtreme Advantage Motorsports, working with people is second nature, which is one of the main reasons the husband and wife team got involved in promoting. “It’s all about the people,” Stacey explained. “We are excited to be here and keep the race track operating for our fans, drivers, and sponsors.” You can bet that the couple’s family will be involved as well. Steve and Stacey’s daughters, Alexis (13) and Katelin (10), will help out during the week and on Saturday nights. They are very excited to be a part of this experience.
Spectators can experience first-class dirt car and truck racing every Saturday night from mid-May through Labor Day weekend. The 3/8-mile clay-surfaced track is home to Michigan’s top drivers. Merritt Speedway hosts several classes including: UMP Late Model, UMP Modified, Pro Truck, Pro Street, and Factory Stocks. In addition, special traveling series like the World of Outlaw Late Models, Sprints on Dirt, and Lightning Mini-Sprints are also set to take the stage throughout the racing season.
Short tracks like Merritt Speedway are the backbone to the sport and provide a rugged proving ground for young drivers. Almost every major racing champion began his career on a short track much like Merritt Speedway. Late Model superstar Jeep VanWormer and NASCAR Nationwide Series veteran Tim Fedewa both began their racing careers at Merritt. Even NASCAR Sprint Cup series driver, Ryan Newman, and World of Outlaws champions, Josh Richards and Tim McCreadie, have won races at Merritt Speedway.
The 2013 season will be Merritt Speedway’s 45th Anniversary and its 25th “Wood Tic 100″ Anniversary. We look forward to celebrating these major milestones with you this season, so come on out and experience Northern Michigan’s premiere dirt track!