Living on the Edge
When the green flag dropped at the Grosse Point Racetrack to start the 1901 challenge race between Henry Ford and the world speed record holder Alexander Winton, a new era of sports entertainment began in Michigan. The first 100 years of automobile racing in Michigan makes a historically fascinating tale, as it has grown from simple beginnings to become one of the most popular spectator sports in North America.
Many of the legends of stock car, midget, open wheel and modified car racing will give the reader a sense of being there with them behind the wheel. In addition to drivers, interviews with racetrack and car owners, promoters, sponsors and manufacturers will provide the historical background and understanding behind the sport’s popularity.
From local quarter-mile dirt tracks to the 2.5-mile concrete oval at Michigan International Speedway, there are racetracks in over half the counties in the state. At one time there were over 200 tracks operating in Michigan and currently 44 ovals are scheduling races from go-karts to the super stocks of NASCAR.
The seeds of the Ford Motor Company and auto racing in Michigan were planted that day in Grosse Point when Ford’s racecar “Sweepstakes” took the checkered flag. NASCAR is now a multi-billion dollar business and although its roots began with bootleggers in the South, those early back road renegades have always had close ties to the Big Three automakers in Detroit, Michigan.
Baker Engineered Racing Engines, Sweet Manufacturing steering systems and Howe Racing radiators & ball joints are just a few Michigan companies that have supplied racers with the necessary parts to compete with the best at all levels of auto racing.