Berlin Raceway

Address: 2060 Berlin Fair Drive
City: Marne
State: MI
Zip: 49435
County: Ottawa
Number of visits to this page: 24501
Info Updates:
5/12/2014 - Kevin Corbat
opening three weeks are going smoothly amid the ongoing renovations, new seats tower over the track, and new press boxes/ spotter stand is well on its way to be completed by mid-june, pictures coming soon.
4/9/2014 - Kevin Corbat
New seats that formerly occupied turn three at Michigan International SPeedway are being installed on the front straight away, replacing the former wooden grandstands, as well as increasing capacity. The season opener is April, 26th, races start at 6:oo.
1/17/2011 - Michael Jay
Mike Miller was also a Pit Steward at Berlin from 1970-1976 when he was involved in a motorcyle accident - He returned to Berlin in 1978 and then retired after the season to try the Professional Bowler's Tour.
12/23/2010 - Doug Taylor
Race Engine Builder Ray Baker, Baker Racing Engines passed away unexpectedly, Dec. 10th 2010 at 68. Ray had a shop just down the road from Berlin Raceway where he build his race engines and shipped them around the world. Ray was told by a media person that they were the largest producers of stock car racing engines in the world. In 1975 Ray decided to go racing, where he won the first race that he entered. It was against Freddie Campbell, Butch Miller and several others at Hartford Speedway. Ray also raced at Berlin finishing second to Johnny Benson Sr. in a 100 lapper. Ray also has high credits, helping in the development of the 3800 Chevy V-6 motor, with Smokey Yunick. Ray was honored last year, by lifelong friend and classmate from Ferris State University Buck Boudeman , who owns an original Novi Racecar. There were only two original Novi’s built. The original Novi’s are the most historic race cars in existence. Buck paid Ray the greatest compliment possible when he selected Ray Baker to pilot the Novi at Indy and run some exhibition laps. If anyone would like Ray Baker's BIO by Dick Lee, I can E-mail it to you. theradioman1@yahoo. com God speed to you friend.
10/27/2008 - Garrett
Oh yeah, I remember this place! Who wouldn''t? ANYONE who was ANYONE ran at this track over the years. With a plethora of names like Benson (both Jr. & Sr.), The Seneker bros., The Moulders, Joy Fair, Ed howe, and on and on, if you ever seen a race at this track, you would remember it. This track is/was what Flat Rock/Mt. Clemons were/are to the east siders to the guys here on the west side of the state. This was THE track. Numero uno. Today, it is known more for ASA racing and Pro Cup events, but back in the day this was the place to watch Super Mods on ashphalt! OH they were fast and so awesome! I would love to watch stuff like that around here these days. The closest thing to it for the laymens would be the old Silver Crown cars. These guys were that fast and this was 30+ years ago. And they used to come out 50 or a 100 strong on the BIG nights. I remember waiting for an hour (Dad was griping the whole time) to get out of the place after a night of racing there. I really need to go up there and watch something again.
1/18/2008 - Randy
Berlin Raceway opened in 1950 as a dirt track. New ownership took over in 2001 and has invested extensively in upgrading the track infrastructure.
2/7/2005 - Jan Garrett
What was Nolan Johncocks home town?
12/29/2004 - Chris Fobbe
As the 2005 Berlin Raceway schedule was released, the American Speed Assocaiation (ASA) was not on the schedule because of dwindling atendance.
12/17/2004 - Dick Lee
A Look Back - By: Dick Lee, track historian - Part 1
When the checkered flag flew over the stock car of Gene Farbers feature win on April 28, 1951, it began the now 51 year history of Berlin Raceway. That historic opening night was the work of the late Chester Mysliwiec. Chet had worked out a lease for the Berlin Fairgrounds in late 1950 and built a dirt fifth-mile track for stock car racing.

The fairgrounds had a full one-half mile dirt track, which was left over from the old horse racing days along with a cover grandstand, which seated 1,500 people. These same stands mysteriously burned down in 1973. There is a recurring rumor that they were torched but no one wants to talk about who might be the person responsible.

In 1947-48 a group of racers who called themselves the Track Masters, raced roadsters on the half-mile dirt. Some of the racers at that time running there were Joe Bisocky, Les Williams, Gene Farber, Dick Peoples, Tommy Lane, Glen Rocky and Wild Bill Wiltse.

Under Mysliwiecs promotion in the early fifties the cars that were running at Berlin Raceway were primarily 1932 Fords utilizing flathead V8 engines. Some of the racers of that era were Ping Pong Rinner in the Mutual Auto Parts C-1, Jack Cummifords blue # 24, Bill Shermans white #9, Bill Wiltse in the #32 owned by Lefty Terrhar, Gordy VanderLaans #2 owned by first Mike Brouche and then Jerry Rose, Tommy Lanes #4 owned by Erv Finkler. As the 1950s rolled on at Berlin Raceway the stock cars began to evolve into modifieds. The bodies were chopped down for a lover silhouette so as to take some weight off the cars for more speed. The flathead engines were being souped up with racing modifications and began burning alcohol instead of gasoline. The engines, frames, and body changes now came rapidly as speeds dramatically increased.

In 1957 Johnny Roberts brought to Berlin Raceway what would then come to be known as a super modified. Roberts #1 consisted of a cut down Crosley body and a Studebaker V8 overhead valve engine. His new race car was so small that Roberts could barely squeeze into the cockpit.

The fifth-mile dirt track soon became too confining for the new and faster breed of super modifieds and Chet began eyeing the big one-half mile dirt track. Soon, the super modifieds were turned loose on the bigger track. The half-mile track proved so successful that the lighting system was purchased from Bigelow Field when that facility closed up and installed in Berlins half-mile track so that racing could be run after dark.

The names of racers in the super modifieds on Berlins half-mile are legendary in Michigan auto racing. Johnny Roberts, Dick Carter, Bob Knight, Glen Rocky, Nolan Johncock, Johnny Logan, Ralph Baker, Norm Brown, Gordy VanderLaan, Eddie VanderLaan, Jimmy Nelson, Johnny Johnson, and Tommy Lane. Each of these racers have been inducted into the Michigan Motor Sports Hall of Fame.

There are some who will argue that Berlins dirt half-mile was the best dirt track in the Midwest. It was said that if you could do well on that track, you could do well anywhere. The track was always worked to perfection during the week so as to be in excellent condition for race day. It was not the traditional dirt track of its time which was dry and dusty.

In 1961 Audie Swartz, from Indiana, brought the first super modified to Berlin Raceway with a wing attached to its roof. Swartz won the feature on his third attempt. It did not take long for the regular Berlin drivers to realize the benefits of installing a wing on their cars and they all sported wings.

12/17/2004 - Dick Lee
A Look Back - By: Dick Lee, track historian - Part 2
Auto racing was tough in those days and three race drivers lost their lives on the dirt half-mile track. Wally Galeski and Glen Rocky in 1959 and Dick Carter in 1965. Dick Zimmerman, Berlins flagman at that time, was killed at the race track. Zimmerman always stood on the inside of the track when flagging the qualifying runs and was accidentally hit by a spinning race car. One of the low points of the track came on July 31, 1968 when a super modified started to climb the front stretch wall and the rear end of the car tore out, got twisted in the fence and then went into the grandstands. It was in the box seats in front of the old covered grandstands. The force knocked three people out onto the track and tore out all of the wiring so that they couldnt turn on the red warning lights on the track to stop the rest of the field coming through the fourth turn onto the front straightaway. Someone in the pits thought fast and ran to the edge of the track and hand signaled the cars to slow down. Johnny Benson, Sr. was leading at the time and he pulled off the track and the other racers followed him. Three fans were fatally injured and twenty-nine others were taken to the hospital for treatment. One of the injured persons was a kid by the name of Chris Bradley who went on to become an accomplished crew chief only to lose his life in a tragic accident in a pit accident during an ASA race in another state.

Through the years many nationally famous race drivers visited Berlin Raceway to compete. Four time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Dale Earnhardt, Adam Petty, Dick Trickle, and Daytona 500 winner Bobby Allison. Allison would fly in with his own plane and do a barrel roll over the track on his way to the airfield to land. The first time Bobby Allison raced at Berlin the traffic was backed up four miles deep on the expressway according to the state police.

In the early 1960s a new twist in racing was taking place. Auto racing has always been an evolutionary sport and where dirt tracks had been prevalent up till then, the pendulum was now swinging to paved tracks. The Grand Rapids Speedrome which was located less than ten miles from Berlin paved its half-mile track and was running the lighting fast super modifieds to large crowds. Berlin field of cars was decreasing and crowd attendance was dwindling. The handwriting was on the wall and the dirt half-mile was replaced by a 7/16s paved track soon after the 1965 racing season finished. Duane Knoll won the last feature run on the dirt half-mile on September 6, 1965. The following year, Norm Rust of Novi, MI won the first feature on the newly paved track. Some of the super modified drivers who competed on Berlins pavement at that time were Jackie Lindhoudt, Cy Fairchild, Art Bennett, Eddie VanderLaan, Duane Knoll, and Johnny Benson, Sr.

Who at that time would ever guess that as midgets had their day and died, now it was also true of the super modifieds. Auto racing was now going in a different direction again. A new type of race car came on the scene called semi-late model stock cars. It would be difficult to envision this class of car evolving into the present day late models, but they did. Some of the racers who excelled in this class were Randy Sweet, Rich Senneker, Bob Senneker, Jim Adema, and Gail Cobb.

As the seventies came on the scene, the semi-late model stock cars evolved into late models. As the years wore on the late models became more sophisticated, faster and more expensive. John Benson, Sr. dominated the seventies at Berlin Raceway, going on to win the season point championship seven times. During the eighties, drivers such as Fred Campbell, Randy Sweet, Bruce VanderLaan, and Johnny Benson, Jr. came along to win track championships.

When the age of the nineties was reached we found drivers such as Fred Campbell, Joe Bush, Randy Sweet, and Bob Holley as champions. One of the ways to measure the success of Berlin Raceway is to look at the race drivers who got their start at Berlin and were launched their racing careers onto the national level. Norm Brown, Bob Senneker, Butch Miller, Jack Sprague, Mike Garvey, and of course, Johnny Benson, Jr. A complete roster of the workers who staffed Berlin Raceway for fifty-one years would not be feasible however we would be remiss not to mention those who stood out in terms of longevity and quality of service thy performed. Mrs Allen who kept the season points for many years in the early history of the track. Electricians, Ray Kalkovan, George Volkema, Harold "Putt" Popma. Photographers, Lewis Branch, Ray Rogers, Tom Devette. Sound system, Doug Taylor. Announcers, Hank Heald, Big Bud Lindeman, John Shipman, Norm Jelsma. Flagmen, Bob Davis, Ben Crampton, Dick Zimmerman, Jimmy Meyer, Bobby Galloway, Duane Hoffman. Head of maintenance, Bill Mysliwiec. Scorers, Stader Timing, Don and Margie Sollenberger, Chet and Shirley Hall. Pit steward staff, Bob Marz, A.J. Stewhouwer, Forrest House, Russ Dodge, Ross Conran, Bob Marz, Jr., Don and John Zimmerman, Roger Hoerling, John Potts. The three Mysliwiec brothers, Chet who promoted the track till his passing. Chuck in charge of ticket sales and payoff. Dick, public relations.

Currently we find three divisions of stock cars running at Berlin Raceway, late models, super stocks and sportsman cars. Berlin also runs specials such as the American Speed Association, (ASA), Auto Club of America, (ARCA), Auto Value Sprint Cars, and super modifieds from the International Super Modified Association, ( ISMA). All varieties of race cars blister the Berlin Raceway oval so that all racing fans may find their tastes satisfied.

After all of these years we find Berlin Raceway as being the fastest, most competitive short track in the state of Michigan. So enjoy the current racing, hold the past in reverence, and look expectantly towards the future because it will be exciting in whatever form in manifests itself.

7/27/2003 - Web
In 1950 Chester Mysliwiec and family started a racing tradition. Berlin Raceway, as he named it, has seen it all through the years. From its humble dirt track beginnings, Berlin Raceway, now a 7/16 mile paved oval, has grown into one of the premier short tracks in America.

Berlin Raceway has one of the strongest fan bases for grass roots racing in the nation. Berlin has packed in thousands of race fans a year for 50 years. Over 5 million race fans have spent their Saturday nights at this legendary track.

Not only have race fans of all ages enjoyed the track, but drivers like Tim Steele, Jack Sprague and Bob Senneker have honed their driving skills on what Johnny Benson Jr. claims as "one of the most difficult tracks in the country."

In 2001, the West Michigan Whitecaps purchased the track and invested funds in the infrastructure, building new restrooms, a new sound system, new catch fence and other amenities to make Berlin Raceway not only the premier facility in the Midwest, but also the most fan-friendly. The racing hasnt suffered either. With partners like NASCAR Winston Cup driver Johnny Benson, Berlin Raceway has kept the racing extremely competitive. The goal of Berlin Raceway is to continue to provide exciting racing and an affordable experience in a clean, safe environment.
Berlin Raceway - 1953 FROM JERRY
Berlin Raceway - OLD PHOTO
Berlin Raceway - TRACK
Berlin Raceway - OLD AD
Berlin Raceway - FROM ROBERT KRUPA
Berlin Raceway - FROM ROBERT KRUPA
Berlin Raceway - WINTER 2007
Berlin Raceway - WINTER 2007
Berlin Raceway - WINTER 2007
Berlin Raceway - GRAND OPENING 1951 FROM JERRY
Berlin Raceway - AERIAL PHOTO
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