Michael’s Mercer Raceway celebrates its historic 70th season in 2021 with a varied schedule to please everyone.
By Jim Balentine
2020 was a year of epic proportions as the Covid virus Shut down everything including the start of the 2020 season.. however in mid July the decision was made to go forward with the schedule and ended up with an almost 100% rain free year.
Ed Michaels..now in his 3rd year of his family’s 2nd run of track ownership will provide the racers and the race fan numerous specials including the 70th anniversary of the first night of racing on the historic egg shaped over way back in 1951 with a celebration of legendary drivers who have competed at the speedway.
the 410 sprints will return for many unsanctioned shows with a minimum of $2000 to win. Mercer will also be the kickoff for the return of the famous “Western Pennsylvania Sprint speedweek“ which will be sanctioned by Tony Stewart’s All star sprints on Wednesday June 3rd. It has been since the year 2000 that Mercer was a part of the special 5 night series. The 410s will return on 4/24;6/19; and 7/28 for $2500 to win and will race for $4000 to win on 5/29; July 17th will be the 2nd annual “Ralph Quarterson memorial” Western Pa. sprint championship honoring the “master of Mercer” paying $3300 to win; and on 7/31 for the 1st annual “Guy Griffin memorial” paying $2500 to win. Guy Griffin who won in many divisions at Mercer since 1994 passed away in 2020 after complications from a racing accident in 2017. Third generation driver Adam Kekich from Hermitage Pennsylvania picked up all but one feature event last season and should be back to defend his turf. 6 time track champion Jack Sodeman Jr was the only other victor in the 410s.
The bread and butter of Mercer since 1951, the big block Modifieds will return as the weekly headliner division and will be showcased on 8/7 with the 3rd annual Michaels memorial BRP modified tour paying $5000 to win. The Mod tour will kick off 2021 as part of the annual “Chiller thriller” on 3/27, and will also return for the 1st annual “Rick Hall memorial” on 6/19 honoring the long time modified racer and mod tour board member who passed away in 2019. Last year New York State drivers Phil Vigneri, Erik Rudolph and Chad Brachmann from the big Apple state picking up big paying wins. 2019 and 1995 champ Rex King Sr and his son Rex King Jr and Dave Murdick picked up wins also.
The FASTRAK limited modifieds with the crate 602 motor will return for their 3rd season. Car counts were steadily growing as the season went on. J.R. McGinley, Preston Cope, and Brandon Ritchey picked up their 1st wins in the division as Eric Gabany and Chas Wolbert won 3. 2019 champ Brian Schaffer won once.
The Racesaver 305 sprints have been growing each year and again for 2021 many drivers have moved up from the mod lites and young guns and should help fill the field weekly. The class has been very competitive as well with 2019 track champion Jake Gomola being the only repeat winner!! Veteran Jimmy Morris, Greg Dobrosky who picked up the “Big Mav Classic” in memory of Brandon Hawkins, central Pa standout Garrett Bard and Randy Sterling have been the other victors. The “big Mav classic will return on 7/24!!!
The mini stocks provided the best competition of the year with averaging over 24 cars nightly all battling for the highest paying 1st place regular show money. The mighty Mercer mini stocks had five feature events out of eight that were won by less than one second!!! Adam Aley who returned to racing after a 19 year layoff , picked up his first career win at Mercer as did Phil King who also won both little guy national features and also Andy Thompson !! Adam Aley’s brother Will had one win, Mike Porterfield with two, and former champ Tim Callahan had one.
Other highlights of the 2021 season will be the popular Penn/Ohio pro stocks, a summer enduro, the junior sprints, the return of the hugely successful demo derby and the grand finale the 22nd annual Little guy nationals.
The 2021 season opener is scheduled to kick off on Saturday March 27th with the annual chiller thriller featuring BRP big block modifieds , racesaver 305 sprints, pro stocks , FASTRAK modifieds and the mini stocks with a rain date of Sat April 10th.
The 70th regular season opener is scheduled to begin on Saturday April 24th featuring the 410 sprints paying $2500 to win with racing to begin at 7 pm.