Battle of Berlin 251 is gonna be just that — a BATTLE!!


Berlin Raceway Vice President Chris Danielson was very honest when he said the goal was to put butts in the bleachers at the race track this summer.
He was joking when he called his place of business “The All New and Improved Berlin Raceway and Entertainment Complex,” telling me I could drop “the all new and improved” part at any time. But the part about bringing people back to the small-town track was all about business.
Danielson and the folks at the Marne, Michigan track are going about that in a big way. Take the June 16 “Battle at Berlin 251.” OK, so guys like Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart aren’t going to be there, but Berlin Raceway is looking to the future the same way NASCAR is grooming its young stars.
Chase Elliott, son of NASCAR legend Bill Elliott will be back. He’s finally growing up — he’s 19 — and he has been hand-picked by Hendrick Motorsports to take over for Jeff Gordon in the No. 24 car.
He’s what racing folks are calling a rising star.
Erik Jones also is gonna be racing in this special 251-lap race, that will feature necessary, instead of mandatory, pit stops this year to add to the excitement. He’ll be driving one of the regular Berlin cars being built by a familiar face around these parts: Mike Bursley.
“The car is being built as we speak,” Bursley said during a media get-together on Wednesday, May 13. “I had to come to the shop just to talk to you guys. I couldn’t be more happy to be part of this event.”
A lot of Berlin regulars are expected to be on hand, including Johnny VanDoorn, the winner of the last two 251-lap races.
Danielson also said they’re working on getting more out-of-town racers up to Michigan, particularly people from further south.
The winner’s share will remain at $10,000, but the entire purse has ballooned up to $100,000, giving more drivers more incentive to consider more a trip to West Michigan on June 16.
“A lot of people are scared to come up here because they hear that Berlin Raceway (and Entertainment Complex) is so tough on newcomers,” Danielson said. “We’re offering more money to get more people up from down south … and the live pit stops are going to make it more exciting, too.”
As one who has witnessed many, many, many races at Berlin Raceway, from the big-winged Sprint cars to the 4-cylinder cars that buzz around the (almost) half-mile over like a swarm of bees (according to, I can tell you that pretty much every time there are 10 or more cars on that track, there’s a good chance something exciting will happen.
Having over 30 quality racecar drivers in the Late Model cars that tour the oval at an average of close to 100 mph will make it intense, as well.
You know as well as I do that guys that win games or races or whatever enjoy the paycheck that goes with it, but once the puck is dropped, the first pitch is thrown or the green flag is waved, the only thing that matters is winning.
It’s not being called the Battle at Berlin 251 for nothing. That’s why y’all should get your butts in the bleachers on June 16. General admission tickets are $20, $10 for children ages 8 through 11.
Oh, I forgot to mention the belt that goes to the winner. Take a look as Don DeWitt, Berlin Raceway CEO and Danielson show it off.


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