Cadillac, MI (Wednesday, April 7, 2021) - In just three short weeks, DIRTcar UMP Late Model drivers, crews, and their fans will be gearing up for the sophomore season of the Allstar Performance Late Model Challenge Series Supported by Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort. The series pits drivers against one another for 10 events between Tri City Motor Speedway and Merritt Speedway, with an impressive $13,000 payday to the driver atop the points standings at the end of the year. One driver hoping to cash in, is Cedar Springs, Michigan driver, Mike VanderMark, Jr.
The second-generation driver will search for his first major triumph in DIRTcar Late Model since making the switch to the division just a few seasons ago in 2018. VanderMark saw success in Pro Stocks, Modifieds, and Street Stocks before making the jump to Late Models. It didn’t take him long though to find his first feature win, coming at Thunderbird Raceway in 2019. He also was crowned the Thunderbird Raceway Summer Thunder Series Champion that same season.
This year, the tires become Hoosier’s, the prize money increases, and the challenges grow taller. VanderMark will be looking to knock some of the best Late Model drivers in the state.
“You can’t not at least think about running the Challenge Series races if you race Super Late Models around here,” said VanderMark. “There is too much money on the line and some great guys to race against - to win one of them races is definitely an accomplishment.”
VanderMark will be attempting the Challenge Series in a new chassis in 2021, becoming another driver rolling out of the Domination Race Cars camp this season. VanderMark says he’s working with three-time DIRTcar UMP National Champion, Rusty Schlenk when Hoosier Tires are needed.
“We got a new Domination Car from Rusty,” VanderMark explained. “It’s been great working with him and trying different things together. We also got a new Black Diamond Chassis this year that we are just now starting to assemble together with the help from Outlaw Suspension Technologies. It will be a month or so before we have the Black Diamond car done, but our plan is right now to run the Domination Car on Hoosier’s and Black Diamond on American Racers.”
VanderMark joins the likes of Stemler, Mielke, Marcoullier, and others who will fight for a Challenge Series win and Championship this season. VanderMark recognizes that a Championship, much less a win, is going to be a tall order.
“Our goal with the Challenge Series is to run in top-five and hopefully contend for some [wins], “VanderMark said. “We realize we have some work to do before we contend to win races against them guys. I know we can do it, we have good equipment this year, we just need to get a good handle on these cars.
The first Challenge Series weekend is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, April 30th and May 1st at Tri City and Merritt Speedways. For more information on the Challenge Series or the respective tracks, log onto www.tricityracetrack.com or www.merrittspeedwaymi.com. Find the tracks on Facebook and Twitter.
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Story - Zach Hiser, Horsepower Happenings
Photo - Just Shoot Me: Photography by Katie