Mike and I spent the early part of our race day in Michigan at the Hudsonville Community Fairgrounds. Our evening was spent at the Berlin Raceway. I had been there to see Midgets with Kevin Eckert in 1989. On that day, we sat with Midget historian Bill Hill. This evening we sat with Allan and Nancy Brown. I had told Allan we would be arriving after the show started, and he said he would save us seats. Allan's older brother Adrian was with them, and he has been coming to Berlin since 1951. The seats at the fourth turn end of the frontstretch were very comfortable aluminum seats with backs.
On tap were the AVSS Super Sprints, along with Modifieds, Sportsman, and the VROA Vintage Modifieds. We arrived to find a big crowd on hand. Allan estimated it at 3,500-4,000. As the place sits over 8,000, there were still plenty of good seats. Admission was $15, a bargain to see a top traveling Sprint Car show.
We arrived at the end of the Modified heats, just in time for the Sprint Cars. There were 17 sprints on hand, and for some reason they broke them into three heats. Berlin is a bit under a half mile which is a good size. Whey put only five or six cars on the track for races? After those three heats, it was already intermission.
The break lasted only about ten minutes and they were ready to start the four features. The three support class features preceded the Sprint Cars. Each of the four classes had between 13-17 cars, a little on the slim side but not too bad.. It was still daylight when the feature races began. The AVSS Super Sprints had some great teams on hand ready to race. Names like Bill Tyler, Mike Ling, Hank Lower, Tim Cox, Joe Swanson, and Jason Blonde were pitside.
During a support class feature, I visited the refreshment stand for the only time of the night, and had some french fries which were good.
They choose a "10" for the invert which was awesome, and it put Jason Blonde in row five. With the track lights shining off the beautiful winged 410's, the 16 car feature lineup headed to the green flag. Blonde was amazing, flying by cars on the outside and making some incredible tire-smoking sideways moves in traffic. Blonde took the lead from Mike Ling, who had won the night before at Dixie, on lap 17. He started to pull away but a few laps later a lapped car hit an inside cone in turn four and knocked it on to the track. I thought Blonde spun to avoid the cone and would be given the lead back, but he was not and restarted in 11th place. He charged to fifth in one lap, but he tires were shot from the nine cars passed, the flat spots from the spin, and the six cars passed on the restart.
The win in the 30 lap feature went to Mike Ling for the second night in a row. In fact, Ling is undefeated in AVSS this season, as the only previous race, scheduled for Baer Field, was rained out. Joe Swanson, Tim Cox, Kevin Feeney, Jason Blonde, Bill Tyler, and Hank Lower followed. These guys put on an outstanding show. It might have been the best race I've seen so far this year, with the possible exception of the Sprint Car feature at Brownstown.
The entire program fit perfectly into a three hour window, starting on time at 7:00, and finishing just before 10:00. Too bad too many promoters can't see the correlation between fewer classes and shorter shows to the nearly 4,000 people in the stands at Berlin.
We beat most of the cars out of the parking lot, and made it all the way back to Toledo before stopping for the night at a Day's Inn. It was a great day of racing and a great weekend trip with Mike. Both Michigan tracks were first time visits for Mike, while only Hudsonville was new for me. However, Berlin was previously visited before 1990, which means my film of the track was Super 8, not videotape. So Berlin was also a second track removed from the HitList for me last weekend. I had a great time in Michigan and hope to get back there again soon.
Guy & Pam Smith 2013 Summary
2013 New Tracks--Guy 18 / Pam 9
2013 Events-- Guy 32 / Pam 13
2013 Total Tracks-- Guy 31 / Pam 13
2013 Additional new Non TC Tracks--Guy 1 / Pam NA
Lifetime Total Tracks--Guy 1,495 / Pam 846
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