Rod ancel memorial - sat., aug 5

They say that you are born with the love of racing in your blood. This was true for Rod who started attending Merritt Speedway at an early age.  What started as turning wrenches for friends Don Chrispell and Rick Mead, quickly turned into a lifelong love for dirt track racing. As a young teenager Rod started at the track parking cars in the pits and as they say the rest is history.

Although Rod never was much of a race car driver (he did try a couple times), he found that officiating allowed him to stay involved in the sport of racing that he loved. Rod started as the assistant flag man under Al Pacman, before working as the head flagman for Ed and Carmen VanDuinen. Each Saturday night, with rarely a miss, he could be found on the flag stand at Merritt Speedway.  He also enjoyed filling in at other tracks when needed, including Winston Motor Speedway.

In 2003, Rod transitioned from the head flagman to the general manager of Merritt Speedway.  At the beginning of the 2006 season, with Ed and Carmen VanDuinen ready to retire, Rod, along with his wife Johnna took over as the promotors of Merritt Speedway. Rod`s dream to have a little racing buddy came true in 2007, when his first grandson was born six weeks early on June 14th, the day one of the largest races that Rod had ever promoted, The Who 55, was scheduled. In true Rod fashion, the show went on. In the later years, spending time at the race track with his grandson`s brought him a great since of joy.

Rod`s love and dedication to the sport of racing was always evident. When not at Merritt Speedway he enjoyed visiting other tracks and attending conference and conventions to keep up with the every changing sport of racing. He also enjoyed golfing and more than anything being a Papa to Gabriel and Isaiyah.

In May of 2013, Rod passed away after a battle with cancer and is missed by many. Johnna still works for Merritt Speedway in the concessions building and is a huge help to our program.

On Saturday, August 5, we invite all former Merritt Speedway champions to the track for free admission, a special dinner served complimentary under the champions pavilion, and recognition.