Grassroots Racing in Northern Michigan: Mt. Pleasant Speedway

MT. PLEASANT – Our Grassroots Racing in Northern Michigan series takes us to Mt. Pleasant Speedway Friday, as the American Ethanol Late Model series highlights the track’s weekly night of racing.

The business of short track racing is often a volatile one, with track ownership changing hands often. But the Crook family is the exception.

With the track sitting dormant, and after years of attempting to purchase the facility, Dick Crook finally saw his opportunity to buy Mt. Pleasant Speedway in the mid-1980s.

Since that opportunity came knocking, the Crook family has owned and operated the 3/8 mile clay track for the last 29 years.

“It’s unusual for a same owner to own a track for 29 years. There are a couple others in the state, but it’s very unusual,” said son Mario Crook. “Most promoters are in and out in a matter of just a few years or a couple years.

“There’s not always a lot of profit. Sometimes there’s no profit, but you have to like it. It’s in your blood. It gets in your blood and it never leaves.”

B-Modified driver Roy Harvey began his racing career at Mt. Pleasant Speedway at 15 years old and has been a fixture at the facility on a near weekly basis since.

“Certain tracks have certain meaning to other people that they don’t to others,” Harvey said. “I grew up here as a kid. I actually lived here for a couple years on this property, and I spent a lot of time here. I met my wife here. I married her here on the front stretch, so this place is personal to me. It’s more than just a racetrack.”

Since his passing in 2004, Dick Crook’s wife Betty Crook and son Mario Crook have continued on the tradition of putting on “The Cleanest Show on Dirt.”

“We just decided that this is really what he wanted, so… we decided that, you know, keep it and keep it going,” Betty Crook said.

Although there are no set plans yet for a 30th anniversary celebration, the Crooks expect to host one in 2017.

Mt. Pleasant Speedway will host its season championships for Modifieds, B-Modifieds, Hobby Stocks, 4-Cylidners and Mini Wedges on Aug. 26. Gates open at 5 p.m., with racing to follow at 7:45 p.m.