Grassroots Racing in Northern Michigan: Onaway Speedway

ONAWAY – Our Grassroots Racing in Northern Michigan series takes us to Onaway Speedway Friday.

Originally slated for closure in 2016, Mike Mankin breathed new life into the facility when he purchased the historic 1/4-mile track in March.

“I just thought it’d be a good time,” Mankin said. “I think there’s a lot of potential for this property and I want to do something with it.”

A former oil field worker, Mankin had no racing experience prior to purchasing the track.

“I’ve never raced in my life. My dad raced when I was a kid, but that’s about it,” he said.

Built in 1980 by local businessman Harry Moran, Jim and Krista Dubois owned and operated the facility since 2009 before selling to Mankin.

Despite a lack of racing experience, racer Nicholas Whitehead says Mankin is doing his best to make changes to the track.

“I know he wants to see the driver count improve, to see the track improve, and I know that he’s ambitious about making it happen,” Whitehead said. “I’m excited to be a part of that and I’m excited to help other people become a part of that.”

Future plans call for the construction of a motocross track and possible festivals.

“I want to get my motocross track going again,” Mankin said. “I want to have festivals here also, like music festivals, or other type of draws to the track.”

Onaway Speedway hosts its next weekly race Saturday, with Bomber, Buzz cars, ABC cars and Modifieds all in action.

Time trials begin at 4 p.m., with racing to follow at 6 p.m.