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Muskegon's Thunderbird Raceway Sold to Blackmer

Blackmer Adds Third Track to Assembly of Michigan Speedways

Cadillac, MI (Thursday, November 4, 2021) - Just a few years after being resurrected from a closed status, Thunderbird Raceway in Muskegon, Michigan has once again changed hands. The quarter-mile bull ring is one of Michigan’s most unique race tracks, with a small fan capacity, a distinctive track surface, and a large yet fast-paced show that runs every Saturday night during the racing season. We first learned a change of hands was in the works when former owner, Tom Sprague, posted a release on the Thunderbird Raceway Facebook page.

The release read: I would like to make the announcement that I have completed a deal to sell Thunderbird Raceway. This was a hard decision for me to make. The last 2 seasons have been extremely busy and stressful. COVID-19 has changed the racing scene for racers, fans, and track owners. Tragedy in my personal life has made running the race track tough. With that said, I will be stepping back from track management. I will still be involved with short-track racing as a car owner, sponsor, and hopefully as a driver.

The last 6 seasons at Thunderbird were great. I have met hundreds of new fans and racers over the years. I did not accomplish this all by myself: I would like to thank all the volunteer help that worked to get the track up and running again. I want to thank all the advertisers that worked with us over the years to help make each and every race night a great show.

I want to thank all the track workers that kept the show going each night. And lastly, I want to thank the racers and fans that supported Thunderbird Raceway to make it a great racetrack again.

Thank you, Tom Sprague

Just over 24 hours after the announcement by Sprague, Tri City Motor Speedway (Auburn, MI) and Merritt Speedway (Lake City, MI) owner, Michael Blackmer announced via a Facebook Live video that he had purchased the Raceway. Blackmer quickly worked to assure fans and drivers that his plans didn’t not include an overhaul of what Sprague had built.

In a release Blackmer read to viewers, he said “At this time, we do not have any major changes planned in regard to the racing format at Thunderbird Raceway,” the release read. “Expect the same divisions every week, possibly with increased payouts and larger events,” the release said in part. Blackmer then addressed the audience in an unscripted manner to ask nay-sayers to give him a chance.

“At the end of the day, I’m hearing and seeing the same things that you’re seeing on Facebook,” said Blackmer. “All I’m trying to do is improve dirt racing in Michigan. I’m not perfect, I make mistakes, but I think I’ve done a good job at both Tri City and Merritt building a good foundation at both of those tracks, at the same time building the (Challenge) Series in Michigan,” Blackmer said.

The addition of Thunderbird Raceway to Blackmer’s race track group has also lead to the expansion of the Allstar Performance Late Model Challenge Series. Blackmer released minimal details in the video, but said the Challenge Series will be on the road in 2022 with stops at not only Tri City and Merritt Speedways, the Series’ flagship tracks, but also at Thunderbird Raceway. Blackmer said he also working with Winston Speedway to add a date to the Challenge Series along with other tracks around the state.

There was no official word as the when any of the three tracks would open up their 2022 season, or when the Allstar Performance Challenge Series events would get underway. Several more announcements are expected throughout the course of the offseason and Blackmer said his team is already hard at work to plan and meet with the current staff at Thunderbird Raceway.

Stay up to date with this story and others by listening to the Horsepower Happenings Podcast, with new episodes every Monday night at 9:00 PM ET, available where podcasts are found. Also, check back with and find Horsepower Happenings on Facebook and Twitter.

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