Big Weekend for Michigan Open Wheel Racing

Ben Rutan
Ben Rutan - Mike Campbell Photo

By T.J Buffenbarger, image courtesy of Mike Campbell

Opening weekend is a very appropriate phrase for fans of open wheel racing in Michigan this weekend as weekly programs at Spartan and Butler Speedways begin along with the Engine Pro ASCS Sprints on Dirt presented by ARP lid lifter at Crystal Motor Speedway Friday and Saturday. If the weather is nice Great Lakes area open wheel fans will have plenty of racing to choose from.

The Spartan Friday night non-wing program on pavement has already been well publicized on It is going to be difficult to tell what might show up opening night, but there seems to be quite a bit of interest in the series. Will teams take a wait and see attitude, or will several come out to give the Spartan deal a try during the first week? The improvements to the grandstand, sharp looking buildings, and nice concourse moves Spartan up a notch into the more elite echelon of short track facilities in the state. Hopefully sprint car fans find reason to give it a try once in a while on Friday’s.

Saturday is business as usual opening day at Michigan’s most consistent home for sprint car racing at Butler Speedway. Keep an eye on who might show up to race at Butler with no tire restrictions. Those that are indifferent to spec tires may find a home at Butler for the 2010 season, and could add some new faces to the regular mix of sprint cars that call Butler home.

The Engine Pro ASCS Sprints on Dirt presented by ARP opener at Crystal should see the usual cast of characters with a surprise or two, but not an abundance of outsiders with Waynesfield Motorsports Part running 360 sprint cars on Saturday as well. As an added bonus for those that enjoy racing with fenders, Crystal has double features on the program for their regular classes including the Late Models, in a rare pairing with the ASCS SOD Series.


• Get well wishes go out to Crystal promoter Ron Flinn and Merritt Speedway boss Rod Ancel, both hospitalized with various heart ailments. The prognosis is good for both gentlemen after a slight tune up in various heart wings of hospitals.

• Joe Bares will take his first laps in a new winged ride courtesy of long time supporters Pat and Roger Holzinger numbered 91 instead of 19. Look for Bares to use this ride to fill in gaps in his Gas City schedule.

• The blue J.G. Motorsports #3g car will not have Tim Norman in the seat at Crystal on Saturday, as Darren Long is driving for JG Motorsports on the ASCS Lucas Oil sprint car series this season. With the weekend off Long, Gaerte, and Norman plan on taking their team north to Crystal after a Friday interlude at Limaland Motorsports Park.

• Dustin Daggett turned in an impressive early season performance Friday at Attica Raceway Park during the opening event for the Fremont Attica Sprint Tour. Daggett won his heat race and collected a 5th place finish in the feature. Ben Rutan has also been putting in some time in Ohio early in the season before the season gets rolling in Michigan.

• Note to all race teams and fans, Michigan smoking laws go into effect on May 1st. Make sure to check the rules at your local track on where you can light up. The facility gets the fine, not you, so be courteous to your local short track and follow the rules.

• Darcie Fuzi has a nice feature on Steve Irwin this week’s National Speed Sport News. The column is already online for those who don’t want to wait for their paper to arrive on Thursday.

• Congratulations to Chris and Jessie Hettinger, who welcomed their second child into the world on Monday. Grace Jean Hettinger and Mom is doing well while Chris managed to take a lot of photos.