2011 Great Lakes Open Wheel Preview

By T.J. Buffenbarger

Wyoming, MI — This weekend kicks off a busy spring, summer, and fall of great open wheel racing in Michigan. As of this article 74 short track open wheel programs scheduled for the 2011 season at 19 different racing facilities. Winged and non-winged sprint cars on dirt and pavement, super modifieds, and midget cars all making up the schedule for this year.

The local acts…

Butler Motor Speedway – The Saturday night cornerstone of sprint car racing in Michigan returns with a weekly winged 410 sprint car program for 2011. Specials include an MTS non-winged show on July 16th and the return of the All Star Circuit of Champions on August 20th.

Spartan Speedway – The bi-weekly sprint cars return to Spartan Speedway with an increased purse and a year-end special. The schedule basically runs every other Friday night at the ¼-mile paved oval with the season championship scheduled for August 19th. For 2011 the Spartan Sprint cars will be featured on Sunday of the big Harvest Weekend held Sunday September 4th. This class has seen the most movement with several new teams preparing cars for Spartan. Look for the car county to increase significantly this year at Spartan.

On tour…

All Star Circuit of Champions – The All Stars return to Michigan with a single stop at Butler Motor Speedway on August 20th. Unfortunately this is an extremely busy weekend in the area. If you want the All Stars to return to Michigan attending the Butler event is a must.

Auto Value Super Sprints – AVSS is joining forces with HOSS for some co-sanctioned events, but those races have yet to be named. For now look for AVSS to start at M-40 Speedway on Jun 11th one week before the series returns to Springport Speedway after a several year absence. Stops at Dixie, Owsso, and Berlin are also on the docket. Sprint Cars at Owosso is one of the best kept secrets in sprint car racing. If you can, make sure to add July 2nd and August 13th to your hit list.

Buckeye Super Sprints – This Ohio based 305 sprint car series that primarily races at Sandusky Speedway and Columbus Motor Speedway makes a single appearance during the 2011 season at Flat Rock Speedway. This event is also the only sprint car race held at Flat Rock this season.

Engine Pro ASCS Sprints on Dirt presented by ARP – Season 32 of the Engine Pro ASCS Sprints on Dirt presented by ARP kicks off on April 29th at Crystal Motor Speedway, the only track to hold an event every year of SOD’s existence. The SOD schedule follows a tried and true formula with its usual stops around the Great Lake State. Mt. Pleasant is officially back on the schedule for 2011 on July 8th, giving teams a second show on the way up to Ownendale Speedway. The unique Ionia Free Fair is also back on the schedule July 22nd. The season finale for the SOD sprint cars is September 24th at I-96 Speedway. Look for a few more teams following the entire tour and a little less of Dustin Daggett appearing as his schedule calls for more racing in Ohio during the 2011 season.

Michigan Traditional Sprints – MTS is back for another season of non-wing action. After starting the season in Ohio MTS hold their first Michigan date May 29th at Crystal Motor Speedway. Big shows include the August 5th and 6th “Sprint Tic Weekend” at Merritt Speedway, a Sunday July 3rd round at Cherry Raceway, and a return to Owendale Speedway on September 10th. The season finale for MTS is September 17th at Crystal.

Midwest Super modified Association – The only appearance of the super modifieds in Michigan during the 2011 season takes place at Flat Rock Speedway on Saturday August 20th. The seasoning opening event for MSA in North Carolina drew 20 cars. With the impressive car count so far away from MSA’s primary operating territory one would think the Flat Rock event should have a full field of supers.

Must-See Racing X-Treme Sprint Car Series – Jim Hanks always has something special in store when the Must-See Racing series heads to Michigan. The “Fast Car Slash” at Berlin on June 4th, double features at Auto City on June 25th, and the only sprint car race at Kalamazoo Speedway on July 16th are the Michigan tops for the Must-See Racing Series for 2011. All three races will be taped for the Must-See Racing television show that airs on tape delay on a multitude of different sports channels across the country.

USAC D1/Ford Focus Midgets/Young Guns: It is sad that only two midget races are scheduled for Michigan in 2011. August 20th the D1 regional, Midwest Ford Focus, and Young Guns race at Kalamazoo Speedway on August 20th. The event is in tandem with a national ¼-midget event at the new Little Kalamazoo Speedway located just off the backstretch of the big track. The regional and focus midget series complete the new USAC Developmental ladder system. Berlin Raceway also hosts the regional midgets paired with the Auto Value Super Sprints on September 3rd.

World of Outlaws: This year the Greatest Show on Dirt has two events in Michigan. I-96 Speedway has found their groove with its not traditional late May event. This year the Outlaws invade Lake Odessa’s half-mile oval on May 21st. Fremont Speedway and the All Star Circuit of Champions are off on this night, so look for some different faces to show up at I-96’s Outlaw show. Hartford Motor Speedway secured Wednesday September 21st for their Outlaw show. This is on the way to the 4-Crown Nationals at Eldora and Lernerville Speedway for the Outlaws, and this late in the year plenty of full time racers will enjoy picking up a mid-week pay day. Look for a large field of cars at Hartford.

Who is doing what this season…

Here are drivers and teams that responded to our query for their plans during the 2011 season.

• Joe Bares – Bares has already been in action at Gas City I-69 Speedway. Look for him to race there along with most of the ASCS Sprints on Dirt shows in Michigan along with select programs with MTS, Indiana, and Ohio.

• Jason Blonde – The fastest driver in Bristol Motor Speedway history is chasing the Must-See Racing series along with making some starts in the team’s new dirt car when pavement dates do not conflict.

• Jeff Bloom – This will be Bloom’s 45th season of racing. Once again he will race the Little 500 (he believes it’s the 30th straight he has run) and approximately 30 starts with Must See Racing, HOSS, and AVSS.

• Dustin Daggett – After staying close to home Daggett at the Mott Motorsports team are scheduled to make more trips to Ohio during the 2011 season to do some 410 sprint car racing at Attica Raceway Park and Fremont Speedway. Look for Daggett closer to home when I-96, Hartford, and Cherry Raceway are in action. Daggett’s 2011 schedule is listed through June, look for the team to evaluate the first half of their season before planning the second portion.

• Ryan Davis – Going to race at Spartan for Don Daggett and a couple of shows for George Gustafson at Berlin and Toledo. Look for Davis to pick up some Sprints on Dirt races with Tracy Rice as well.

• Gary Fast – Fast will be at the season opening event for the ASCS SOD series at Crystal Motor Speedway. From there Fast will be racing around his work obligations.

• Kyle Feeney – After several years in ¼-midgets and a season of modified racing Feeney is moving up to pavement sprint cars. Look for Feeney and winged and non-winged races during the 2011 season.

• Taylor Ferns – The young lady that drew a lot of attention due to her performance at Spartan Speedway last season will again race at Spartan between fitting in various midget car starts with POWRi and at other venues. Once again look for Ferns to do some winged sprint car racing as well in Southern Ohio.

• Ryan Grubaugh – Citing fuel prices Grubaugh plans on racing most or all of the ASCS SOD races along with select NRA and Ohsweken shows. Grubaugh also plans right not race at the Knoxville 360 Nationals.

• Chris Hettinger – Hettinger gains a teammate this year in Gavin Hunyady (see below) on the Ed Kenens team. Hettinger will be doing triple duty at Spartan driving a late model, modified, and sprint car.

• Gavin Hunyady – Back in blacktop is the theme for Hunyady after a full season with the Engine Pro ASCS Sprints on Dirt presented by ARP. Hunyady will drive a J&J pavement car, formerly owned and driven by Donny Schatz one time at Anderson Speedway, at Spartan Speedway and selected other events during the 2011 season.

• Brandon Hyliard – Brandon is a rookie in the sprint car division this season and plans on racing at Butler Motor Speedway.

• Dustin Hyliard – Dustin will be back in the driver’s seat for 2011 at Butler Motor Speedway and select races at Limaland Motorsports Park.

• Chad Hart – Chad plans on racing with his father at Butler Motor Speedway during the 2011 season.

• Gerry Hart – Gerry is back at Butler Motor Speedway for the 2011 season.

• Joe Irwin – Look for Joe at all of the 2011 Michigan Traditonal Sprints series events along with selected starts at Waynesfield Motorsports Park, the new Buckeye Outlaw Sprint Series, and the one and only event for the Ontario Topless Sprints.

• Steve Irwin – Steve is driving Roy Jackson’s #42g car this year and has already made trips to Florida and Ohio with the team. Look for that combination to pick and choose races. In additional Steve is partners with his father with a Beast chassis they plan on racing at Spartan Speedway later in the summer.

• Brett Mann – Mann is driving one of the two Biosbased.us dirt sprint cars for Don and Sue Wilshe. Look for Mann to focus on the ASCS SOD tour for 2011.

• Jimmy McCune – McCune is going to focus on the Must-See Racing events along with some USAC Non-Wing sprint car races. From there McCune’s team will pick up races during the year with other series and will try to keep everyone updated on where they are going week to week.

• Dain Naida – Dain will be primarly focused on Ohsweken Speedway driving for Miles Hill in the #07 car. Look for Naida to make select SOS and starts in the United States as well.

• Ken Quimby – Ken is busy with his new business with partner Aaron Smith (see below) with hot shot engine heaters, so he is going to run the car whenever possible at Butler Motor Speedway. Primary sponsor, of course, is hot shot engine heaters.

• Aaron Smith – The other half of the Hot Shot Engine Heater duo will be racing at Butler Motor Speedway and making selected starts at Attica Raceway Park in 2011.

• Jay Steinbach – After his first season moving up from the Micro-Sprints Steinbach is going to focus on sprint car races in West Michigan with the ASCS SOD series and MTS.

• Jim Swain – Jim is back with his family owned Beast chassis. Swain currently plans on focusing on HOSS and AVSS events during the 2011 season.

• Teunessen, Andy – Andy has a newer car and trailer and plans on hitting all of the local ASCS SOD shows during the 2011 season.

State Champion!

Below is the master list of all the open wheel events taking place during the 2011 season. TJSlideways.com is going to keep a point system for all of these events. The feature winner will receive 10 points, going down in one point increments with 10th getting one point. At the end of the year we will crown an un-official Michigan State Sprint Car Champion. Will we have awards, trophys, and fanfare? At this point it’s not known, the winner could receive their favorite beverage (adult or otherwise) as the reward. Either way it will be fun to see who will end up on top of the heap.

2011 Michigan Open Wheel Racing Master Schedule

Date Track City Series/Division
29-Apr Spartan Speedway Mason nw410
30-Apr Auto City Speedway Clio HOSS
30-Apr Butler Motor Speedway Quincy w410
30-Apr Crystal Motor Speedway Crystal SOD
7-May Butler Motor Speedway Quincy w410
13-May Spartan Speedway Mason nw410
14-May I-96 Speedway Lake Odessa SOD
20-May Hartford Motor Speedway Hartford SOD
21-May I-96 Speedway Lake Odessa WoO
27-May Spartan Speedway Mason nw410
28-May Butler Motor Speedway Quincy w410
29-May Crystal Motor Speedway Crystal MTS
4-Jun Berlin Raceway Marne Must-See Racing
4-Jun Butler Motor Speedway Quincy w410
10-Jun Spartan Speedway Mason nw410
10-Jun Cherry Raceway Fife Lake MTS
11-Jun Butler Motor Speedway Quincy w410
11-Jun M-40 Speedway Jones AVSS
11-Jun Merritt Speedway Merritt MTS
17-Jun Cherry Raceway Fife Lake SOD
18-Jun Butler Motor Speedway Quincy w410
18-Jun I-96 Speedway Lake Odessa SOD
18-Jun Springport Speedway Springport AVSS
24-Jun Spartan Speedway Mason nw410
25-Jun Auto City Speedway Clio Must-See Racing
25-Jun Butler Motor Speedway Quincy w410
1-Jul Dixie Motor Speedway Birch Run AVSS
2-Jul Butler Motor Speedway Quincy w410
2-Jul Flat Rock Speedway Flat Rock Buckeye 305’s
2-Jul Owosso Speedway Ovid AVSS
3-Jul Cherry Raceway Fife Lake MTS
8-Jul Mt. Pleasant Speedway Mt. Pleasant SOD
8-Jul Spartan Speedway Mason nw410
9-Jul Butler Motor Speedway Quincy w410
9-Jul Owendale Speedway Owendale SOD
16-Jul Butler Motor Speedway Quincy MTS
16-Jul Crystal Motor Speedway Crystal SOD
16-Jul Kalamazoo Speedway Kalamazoo Must-See Racing
22-Jul Ionia Fairgrounds Ionia SOD
22-Jul Spartan Speedway Mason nw410
23-Jul Butler Motor Speedway Quincy w410
29-Jul Winston Motor Speedway Rothbury SOD
30-Jul Butler Motor Speedway Quincy w410
5-Aug Dixie Motor Speedway Birch Run AVSS
5-Aug Merritt Speedway Merritt MTS
6-Aug Butler Motor Speedway Quincy w410
6-Aug Merritt Speedway Merritt MTS
12-Aug Spartan Speedway Mason nw410
13-Aug Butler Motor Speedway Quincy w410
13-Aug I-96 Speedway Lake Odessa SOD
13-Aug Owosso Speedway Ovid AVSS
19-Aug Spartan Speedway Mason nw410
20-Aug Butler Motor Speedway Quincy ASCoC
20-Aug Flat Rock Speedway Quincy MSA Supermodifieds
20-Aug Kalamazoo Speedway Kalamazoo USAC D1 Midgets
20-Aug Kalamazoo Speedway Kalamazoo USAC FF Midgets
20-Aug Kalamazoo Speedway Kalamazoo USAC Young Guns
27-Aug Butler Motor Speedway Quincy w410
27-Aug Owendale Speedway Owendale SOD
2-Sep Dixie Motor Speedway Birch Run AVSS
2-Sep Winston Motor Speedway Rothbury SOD
3-Sep Crystal Motor Speedway Crystal SOD
3-Sep Berlin Raceway Marne AVSS
3-Sep Berlin Raceway Marne USAC D1 Midgets
3-Sep Butler Motor Speedway Quincy w410
4-Sep Spartan Speedway Mason nw410
9-Sep Hartford Motor Speedway Hartford SOD
10-Sep Butler Motor Speedway Quincy w410
10-Sep Owendale Speedway Owendale MTS
17-Sep Crystal Motor Speedway Crystal MTS
21-Sep Hartford Motor Speedway Hartford WoO
24-Sep I-96 Speedway Lake Odessa SOD
25-Sep Butler Motor Speedway Quincy w410