Great Lakes Edition: Berlin Supermodifieds Headline the Weekend

ISMA/MSS point leader Trent Stephens is one of the drivers competing this weekend at Berlin Raceway. (Lee Booze Photo)
ISMA/MSS point leader Trent Stephens is one of the drivers competing this weekend at Berlin Raceway. (Lee Booze Photo)

By T.J. Buffenbarger

(July 10, 2024) — One of the most nostalgic and unique events of the 2024 racing calendar in Michigan takes place Friday and Saturday when Berlin Raceway hosts the ISMA / MSS Supermodifieds for the Berger Great Lakes Classic Supermodified Weekend.

Berlin Raceway General Manager Jeff Striegel and his team have put in a lot of work the past several years building up this weekend into one of the best weekends of the season for supermodified racing. The weekend is a nod to Berlin’s history when supermodified were the premier division at the track through the 50’s when it was a half-mile dirt oval and into the early portion of the 7/16-mile pavement track era of the track before stock cars became the premier division.

The big block supermodified division has seen some struggles the past several years with car counts down, some different factions within the division, and competition from crate 350 cubic inch counterparts racing on smaller tires that have led to some races seeing smaller car counts. Striegel and his staff have hustled the past several years to ensure a decent field of cars arrives ready to compete at Berlin, with this year continuing that trend with 21 cars on the entry list, which would be approximately 6-7 cars more than ISMA/MSS has seen at shows other than Oswego Speedway this season.

The pre-entry list has some star power that will be familiar to Michigan fans with former NASCAR standout and Berlin Raceway track champion Johnny Benson Jr, USAC Silver Crown Series standout Kody Swanson participating in the Friday portion of the program, Jeff Bloom who regularly participates in sprint car races at Berlin.

The ISMA / MSS supers will bring their own stars to the program as well led by Kyle Edwards and Mike Ordway Jr, who both won feature events during the Great Lakes Classic weekend in 2023. Trent Stephens, a former Ohio resident now living in Salisbury, North Carolina is the point leader coming into Berlin with a feature win during the series opening event of the 2024 season at Oswego Speedway. A.J. Lesiecki, Moe Lilje, Mark Sammut, have also picked up feature wins this season and appear on the entry list for Berlin.

With Oswego Speedway quiet this weekend Dave Shullick Jr. and a handful of other Oswego regulars will also make the trip east to Berlin.

The true stars of the show though are the cars themselves. With their big block engines, each car being hand crafted with meticulous detail, and wild designs always draws a lot of attention when they come to the Great Lakes State.

Other notes

• Congratulations are to Andy Chehowski who picked up his first career feature victory at Butler Motor Speedway last Saturday. Chehowski has been knocking on the door of winning a feature for quite some time at Butler and put everything together last Saturday to make the trip to victory lane for the first time.

The victory was emotional as Chewhoski’s father Troy, a long-time competitor at Butler Motor Speedway, has been battling cancer recently. When visiting during the High Limit Sprint Car Series event at Butler I was informed by Troy his health is on the upswing and he hopes to be back in a car by the end of the season. Andy’s win was also popular throughout the sprint car community with an outpouring of congratulatory messages being sent out throughout the week to one of the nicest families in the pit area that has one of the smallest budgets in the pit area.

The victory was also marked the second time the name Andy Chehowski was added to the list of drivers that won a feature at Butler. Troy’s brother, also named Andy, picked up his first career victory at Butler before tragically losing his life the following night after a crash at US 131 Speedway in Martin, Michigan.

Chehowski will try to make it two wins in a row next week as the 410 sprint cars are off this Saturday at Butler.

• Darin Naida will drive for Marc Dailey Racing next week at Eldora Speedway during the Kings Royal weekend with Indy Racing Parts proprietor and standout crew chief Bernie Stuebgen turning the wrenches. This is the highest profile opportunity for the 18-year-old up and coming driver from Adrian, Michigan, who has impressed many onlookers in his modest, family-owned operation this season.

• The Great Lakes Super Sprints make their first of two trips across the border this season to compete at Ohsweken Speedway on Thursday and Friday night as part “Thunder on the Grand” with the NASCAR Pinty’s Series on Friday before competing in a $10,000 to win finale on Friday. Saturday the series will make it’s first trip to Southern Ontario Motor Speedway in Merlin, Ontario, formerly South Buxton International Raceway, since the track was reconfigured.

• I also want to send out best wishes to announcer and Horsepower Happenings podcast host Zach Hiser who is starting his battle with testicular cancer. Hiser is a staple of GLSS and myriads of other racing series he calls the action for throughout the season.