By T.J. Buffenbarger
Last Wednesday I drove over to Berlin Raceway for a mid-week press event to announce that Erik Jones and Chase Elliott would participate in the Berlin 251. Upon arriving representatives from every major television and radio conglomerate were on hand along with two of the biggest newspapers in the area and myself. I walked by the state of the art suites and aluminum grandstand where the bar and grill resides on premise where food and drink were available for the big announcement.
Looking around I could not help but think how many other short tracks would kill for this kind of attention? Here we are in the second largest city in the state of Michigan at a race track that has the media’s attention. The facility is top notch with quality racing. Looking at the local race cars while I was at the Must See Racing two weeks ago I saw a lot of business support from the community, including some larger corporations.
The other thing I also hear every time I attend Berlin is the infamous, “That’s not the way Chet would have done it…” or something similar. It has to be a difficult act to follow up a promoter that brought a race track to prominence. In fact Berlin has had three groups that have had to do so since the Chet Mysliwiec passed away and the family sold control of the race track located on the Berlin Fairgrounds.
While Chett did wonderful things to build up the race track at Berlin other ownership groups have done wonderful things with the facility, particularly this latest group with Don DeWitt and company. When fans walk into Berlin now it has the feel of any stadium you would go to. The walkways, stands, suites are top notch for any entertainment facility.
Berlin’s past should be celebrated. The success of the track on how it was run and the drivers that starred there are what got us here and why people have invested so much money over past few years to improve the facility. It should not be used to discourage how the track is run now though. The short track landscape is very different and if you look at what the current management is doing at Berlin they are one of the most progressive short tracks in the country.
I think there are a lot of race teams and fans that frequent Berlin that likely need to get off the porch and see some other tracks to see how good they really have it. I feel lucky to have such a quality facility that has top notch pavement and dirt races right in my back yard.
So far this has been the year of dominance in Michigan short track racing. Brian Campbell owned the traveling CRA / ARCA Super Series event at Berlin Raceway on Saturday. Much like he did with the 60 lap race while we were at Berlin for the Must See Racing event, Campbell walked the dog and dominated the 125 lap event last Saturday. Campbell has to be the favorite going into the Battle at Berlin 251 coming up next month.
On the dirt side Dona Marcoullier has been on a roll at the Tri-City Motor Speedway with three consecutive late model victories.
Merritt Speedway had all of the problems a promoter would love to have. Promoter Mike Blackmer saw so many cars they ran out of transponders for cars. Hopefully things continue onward and upward, including timely release of results, from the new regime at Merritt.
Ed Carpenter and CFH Racing was in Detroit on Tuesday promoting the Indianapolis 500 and the upcoming Detroit Grand Prix. Carpenter was giving pace car rides and appearing on various radio and televisions outlets.
We are still getting our footing at MichiganRacingNews.com and getting used to the information cycle that comes out of the different race tracks. By the end of the holiday weekend we hope to have the track guide completely finished and more of a routine established where you can count on various information in a timely fashion. Once that is solid we will start doing some podcasts with some of the movers and shakers in racing from around the state.