Great Lakes Edition: Busy Weekend for Sprint Car Racing in the Mitten

Chuck Wilson. (Mike Nelligan photo)

By T.J. Buffenbarger

(July 19, 2023) — One of the biggest weekends of racing in Michigan for local pavement and dirt sprint car teams take place this weekend with the 500 Sprint Car Tour, Great Lakes Traditional Sprints, Must See Racing Sprint Car Series, and one of the biggest special events of Butler Motor Speedway.

On the pavement…

Tyler Roahrig will be looking for more sprint car victories at Berlin Raceway on Saturday. (T.J. Buffenbarger photo)

Must See Racing competitors embark on a rare back-to-back race dates in the state of Michigan competing on Friday at Birch Run Raceway in Birch Run, Michigan before heading west Saturday to Berlin Raceway in Marne, Michigan.

The Berlin event is particularly intriguing as an all-open wheel show featuring Must See Racing winged sprint cars, the 500 Sprint Car Tour, and USSA Kenyon Midgets along with the track’s sportsman division. The event also features “Christmas in July”, which I envision being a very big deal the way Berlin Raceway tends to do promotions.

Jimmy McCune has won two of the Must See Racing events this season including the series last appearance at Birch Run on May 27th. Jason Blonde, Charlie Schultz, and Bobby Santos III also have won features with Must See Racing this season.

The winged sprint car teams will see a familiar face return to the fray at it was announced that Tyler Roahrig would drive for Ken Statham this weekend. Roahrig has been a dominant force in the 500 sprint car tour, particularly at Berlin Raceway where he had a feature victory on June 10th. Roahrig is scheduled to race both days with Must See Racing and expected to be one of a handful of drivers doing double duty on Saturday.

This will be the last appearance of the year for the 500 tour in the state of Michigan for 2023 while Must See Racing is making the first of two appearance at Berlin, returning on August 12th.

Both Birch Run and Berlin boast some great amenities to take in with Berlin being one of the nicest racing facilities in the entire country.

Darin Naida will look for his second career feature victory Saturday at Butler.  (Patrick Poor photo)

Chuck Wilson Honored and History on Display at Butler

Butler Motor Speedway will honor Toledo, Ohio driver Chuck Wilson during their program on Saturday naming the “Legends of the Past” event in his honor. The race has seen contributions boosting the purse to an appropriate $3131.00 to win and $310 to start. There are other bonuses available as well for hard charger, quick time, heat race wins, and even the closest pill draw to 31 for qualifying.

The night also features vintage cars along with Butler welcoming some of the drivers of the past that turn out for this event.

Last week’s feature winner Darin Naida is expected to return for the Wilson Memorial to pick up his second career winged 410 sprint car victory. With the increased purse and GLSS competing out of state this weekend, a boosted car count is expected for the event.

Non-Wing Weekend

The Great Lakes Traditional Sprints will be in action for two nights Friday at I-96 Speedway in Lake Odessa, Michigan, and Saturday at the Silver Bullet Speedway in Owendale, Michigan.

Indiana Sprint Week starting Friday at Gas City and Saturday at Kokomo Speedway could push some local competitors north for the GLTS event Friday at I-96.

Max Frank. (Jim Denhamer photo)

California driver Ricky Lewis and current GLTS point leader Steve Irwin have victories at I-96 this season.

Ownedale often boasts some of the larger car counts in Michigan for GLTS as several of the teams are based on the east side of Michigan. During the last GLTS visit to Silver Bullet in June Max Frank picked up his first career victory with the series. Frank and company will look to make it back-to-back victories up at Owendale.

In closing…

There are plenty of options this weekend to check out sprint car racing in the mitten. My plan is to be at either Berlin or Butler, which could be a gametime decision based on my day job. As of Wednesday the weather forecast appears to be good to make it to a race or two in the mitten.