All posts by Rand Thompson

Sawalich earns ARCA Menard’s East Flat Rock Speedway Dutch Boy 150 win

It had been since 2000 that an ARCA Touring Series last competed at Flat Rock Speedway, when Frank Kimmel found Victory Lane. This last Saturday marked the return as the ARCA Menard’s Series East invaded the quarter mile “Level Pebble”

Billy Venturini filed an entry for his first race, since he last competed in 2007 in an ARCA Series event at Talladega. Billy is NOT coming out of retirement, but Flat Rock was a track he never had the opportunity to race at and he couldn’t resist adding it to his resume. His dad, Bill was a three time winner there, and Billy did the family proud with a 4th place finish.

Scoring the win in the Gibb’s Racing #18 was 16 year old Eden Prairie, Minnesota racer William Sawalich, who has been pretty impressive this season driving in ARCA, NASCAR Trucks, and Trans Am. Local race fans may remember him from winning at Toledo Speedway in the ARCA/CRA portion of the Glass City 200 last September. Sawalich bided his time in fourth place in the first half while saving his tires before a charge into the lead following a restart. He traded paint a couple times with early leader Sean Hingorani before grabbing the lead and pulling away in the closing laps.

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Chris Benson scores Late Model win at Flat Rock for first time in 14 years!

Chris Benson #51 was oh so close the prior week in a heartbreaker, but made up for it with a dominating performance at Flat Rock in a all green 50 lap Moran Chevrolet ARCA Outlaw Late Model feature on the 2nd week of competition at the quarter mile. It was Benson’s first visit to the Monroe Asphalt Winner’s Circle since 2008 with a popular victory.

Ken Schrader followed up his School Bus F8 win the night before by driving the Rob Moore #82 Street Stock to a top 10 finish in Flat Rock Speedway’s most competitive division.

Lance Lipasek #99 took the win in the 25 lap DTS ARCA Street Stock “A” feature with a hard charging Greg Studt glued to his rear bumper, while Ian Jezylo #00 won the 15 lap Street Stock “B” feature.

Defending R&M Recycling ARCA Figure 8 champion Dennis Whisman Jr. #2 earned a hard fought win over Greg Studt in their 20 lap feature race.

Photo gallery below by clicking on the link; all photos available for purchase

Ken Schrader grabs School Bus Figure 8 win at Toledo

Ken Schrader has competed (and won) in nearly every type of racing you can imagine, but now he can list a School Bus Figure 8 win on his extensive racing resume. Ken bested his nemesis, Jack “the Flipper” Franzil, “Turnover” Terry Smith, Dave Lambert, Sam Mills, AJ Padgett, and Bob Mikolajczyk in the exciting event in front of a raucous crowd.

In other action, Dave Lambert won both the Flagpole race and the Boat Figure 8.

In Toledo Speedway regular divisions, Ron Allen #69 captured the Salenbien Excavating ARCA Late Model Sportsman feature, while Josh Bunting #18 won the Safety Kleen ARCA Factory Stock feature race. It was Bunting’s first time behind the wheel after a hiatus of several years

Click link below to view Photo gallery ; all photos are available for purchase.

Flat Rock Speedway opens for 2023

Flat Rock Speedway opened for their 71st year of racing with all three of the regular divisions competing on the quarter mile “Level Pebble”

Winners were Justin Claucherty #7 of Clark Lake, Mi who scored his first win at Flat Rock in the Moran Chevrolet ARCA Outlaw Late Models. It was a fantastic race with Justin, Chris Benson #51, Connor Zbozien #45, Eric Lee #5 all battling for the win and swapping positions the entire 50 laps. Benson nearly pulled off the win, but was passed by Claucherty in traffic coming to the white flag.

Justin has competed at Flat Rock for several years in the long distance Joy Fair Memorial 100 and Stan Yee Memorial 150, however this was the first time he found himself in the Monroe Asphalt Winner’s Circle.

Feature winners of the evening were

  • Justin Claucherty #7 in Moran Chevrolet ARCA Outlaw Late Models
  • Jeremy Vanderhoof  #4 in the Drive Train Specialists ARCA Street Stock “A” division
  • Troy Brehmer #42 in the DTS ARCA Street Stock “B” division
  • Greg Studt #33 in the R & M Recycling ARCA Figure 8 division

Photo galleries can be seen by clicking on the link below; all photos available for purchase

Flat Rock Speedway Opens 2023 with a great day of practice

Flat Rock Speedway opened it’s 71st season with a pair of open practice days. The festivities were shortened by rain on the 1st Practice weekend, but the drivers still got to hit the track for the first time in 2023. The last weekend was much drier, and 40 cars showed up in preparation for Opening Day on May 6.

Always great to see all the hard work that everyone put in during the off season as well as some of the more familiar cars that have changed hands and numbers.

Photo gallery can be viewed by clicking on the link below. All pictures are available for purchase.

Put-In-Bay Vintage Road Racing fun

Put-In-Bay, an island located in Lake Erie in Ohio,  was the site of vintage road races in the 50’s. This tradition was restarted in 2009 as homage to the events of the days past.  While the original course was run through the street of the town, it is now located on the airport runways, which was common in road racing in the 50’s. In another throw back to that era, the course is delineated with hay bales.  The race cars are divided into several race groups depending on speed.  This is my 2nd visit and it looks like I am making it an annual event.

Photo Gallery can be viewed by clicking on the link below.. All photos are available for purchase.

Sebring, Waterford Hills & Put-In-Bay Road Racing Photos | Level Pebble Racing Pics (

Corrigan Oil Speedway Awards Banquet

Corrigan Oil Speedway racers, families, crew, staff, and fans celebrated the 2021 race season in style at the Michigan State University Kellogg Center on Saturday January 8. Congrats to all !

Performing as Master of Ceremonies for the evening were track announcers Matt Prieur and Sean Sprague, with the band Radio Tokyo providing the post award entertainment.

This was the inaugural season for track owners/promoters Tom & Tracey Hernly and they greeted all those in attendance with the 2022 season schedule and what was in store for the upcoming season. The overwhelming consensus was by all that it was an outstanding season and everyone can’t wait for 2022 !

I will be the track photographer for 2022 and looking forward to getting to know everyone. I did work for the track from 2012-2014 as the website writer, so happy to be back.

All photos are available for sale hi resolution and unwatermarked. Details on ordering on the “Order” tab on the top of the website home page.

There is no method to order on line, but contact me by email or message me if there is something you want. Each picture has a number associated with it if you hover over it with a mouse, send me a screenshot, or just tell me “Row 8, Picture 2” etc.

If you want to order a picture of a driver with trophy, just let me know what division and what place they finished in points and I can find it that way.

Michigan Motorsports Hall of Fame inducts Classes of 2020 & 2021

Racing, legends encompassing all types of motorsports were inducted into the Michigan Motorsports Hall of Fame in n induction ceremony in Mt Pleasant, Mich. on November 13, 2021. 

Inductees represented Oval Racing, Drag Racing Road Racing, Rally Racing, Snowmobile Racing, and involvement as Officials, Crew Members, and Speed Shop owners. 

Class of 2020

  • Ron Allen
  • John Bugenski
  • Dick Crup
  • Rusty Daggett
  • Scott Diehl
  • Arlen Fadely
  • Danny Kellermeyer
  • Brett Mann
  • Chet Miller
  • Eldon Schrader
  • Dana Wiltse

Class of 2021

  • Joe Boyer Jr.
  • Angelo Giampetroni
  • Scott Harvey
  • Gary Howe
  • Ed Inloes
  • Poncho Rendon
  • Doug Shepherd
  • Gorilla Racing (Chris & Chuck Silva)
  • Billy Simmons
  • Ben Snider

Photo gallery below; all photos available for purchase

Armani Williams fulfils childhood dream in ARCA Menard’s Series start at MIS

While my home town track of Michigan Intl. Speedway was closed to all but essential personnel last August, I was fortunately able to attend the Sunday ARCA Menard’s Series and NASCAR Cup events.

While there, I was very excited to see that Grosse Pointe Michigan racer Armani Williams was making his very start in the series at his home track of MIS. Armani was there with his dad Del, and this was a fulfillment of his childhood dream of getting able to compete there. He had attended races there as a youngster and always dreamed of racing there some day.

Armani had previously competed at local tracks in the GLS Mini Cups, and had won a race at Flat Rock Speedway in 2015 when I was there as photographer. He was diagnosed with autism as a very young child , and along with parents, Del & Irena, serves as a role model for others with autism. He is the first autistic racer to ever compete in a NASCAR series, and is currently studying Mechanical Engineering at Oakland University in Rochester, Mi. I was honored to be there to take some pictures of Armani on his big day.

Photo Gallery below. All photos available for purchase

Where it all started (or how I became a race fan)

     I have had people ask me over the years, exactly how I became interested in racing?  I didn’t know anyone who raced and in fact, I don’t think I knew anyone who had ever been to a race either. My parents had, what I like to say, less than zero interest in the sport, so it was something I had developed from within myself.  That being said, I knew exactly how it all started.

     I was always a big car lover since I can remember. My mother says that when I was around 4 yrs old, that I would shout out the makes of cars that I saw driving on the road. My parents divorced when I was just a couple years old, and I would spend a month every summer visiting my dad in Columbus Ohio. I was an avid reader, so I would always look forward to stopping at a Truck stop in Findlay, Ohio where my dad would let me select a magazine to read in the car. When I was 11, I picked out a racing magazine called Circle Track & Highway, and little did I know what an impact that decision would have on my life. I devoured every single word, and after reading a feature article about Indy 500 veteran Lloyd Ruby, decided right then & there, he would become my favorite driver. Racing appealed to me, I guess, as the epitome of what cars were supposed to do.

     Now keep in mind I really had no other exposure to the sport. The only races that were televised was the Indy 500 and short snippets on ABC Wide World of Sports. (usually months after the races were run) All I knew about were the major racing series like Indy, NASCAR, Formula 1 and NHRA. During my visits to Columbus every summer, my dad was always trying to find fun activities for us to do. I was a big baseball fan and loved the Cincinnati Reds, so we went to a couple games every year, but in the summer of 72, I must have worn him down, as he announced we would be making a trip to see the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. I was so excited to see all those cars and take a lap around the track in a van seeing the names of the drivers still lettered on the pit wall, that on the way back to Ohio, he told me that we would get tickets for the Indy 500 the following year!  

     While my parents had been divorced as long as I could remember, I had a great relationship with both of them. My dad, Marc, owned his own wallpaper hanging business and was a jazz drummer for all his life. As a child, I went through all kinds of phases; collecting coins, stamps, fishing, slot cars, model kits, gas powered model airplanes, you name it. I never did anything halfway however, I went all in, and would be obsessed, but after a couple years, would move to the next great thing. I’m sure both my parents were convinced this would just be another passing phase like the rest.

    I waited all year for May to come when we would be going to the race  and as the day got closer, got more and more excited. Finally, we packed up his 1962 Econoline Van and headed to Indianapolis. Unfortunately, the 1973 Indy 500 was considered the worst in the history of the race, and it just rained and rained. There were no jet dryers, so the method of drying the track was tow trucks driving around lap after lap. Finally, the rain stopped, the track dried, and after driver introductions they got ready to start the race.  One of the cars, driven by Rick Muther, failed to start, and finally, urged on by the pleas of the massive crowd, it fired up, and sped up to catch up to the field. It came screaming around the 4th turn where we were sitting and you could have convinced me it was going 200 mph!

     The field of 33 came around on the pace lap, all lined up in rows of three, and all I could think was; “This is the greatest thing I have ever seen!”  The field took the green for the start and out of our view, there was a major crash in Turn 1 with Salt Walther getting upside down and on fire with about 10 cars involved. Before they could clear the track, the rain resumed and that was it.  We came back the following day, which was also rained out, & due to work commitments, my dad had to head back, so that was all I ended up seeing. Well, maybe not entirely, as that night, when we were parked in the A&P parking lot camping, a young lady on top of a van took her top off. Keep in mind I was 14, so twice in the same day, I said “This is the greatest thing I have ever seen!”

I’m not sure if that was when I decided I could really learn to love this sport, but it certainly didn’t hurt. We were able to return the following year for the race which was a classic, and my dad & I looked forward to going for the next several years. I eventually did get to go to MIS in a couple years, and didn’t really know about short track racing for a while longer, but that will be another chapter.