MARNE, Mich. — It is uncertain exactly when opening night will be for Berlin Raceway in the 2020 season. However, on Saturday, cars hit the track for the first time all year during an open practice session.
"It's an exciting time for us right now," said Berlin Raceway president, Mike Bursley, "to finally get the approval to do an open practice, we've had racers itching to get their cars out."
For the drivers, it was an entertaining day as well.
"It's really exciting but awkwardly strange at the same time," laughed super late model driver, Scott Thomas, "you get all revved up over winter time. You build the car and say, 'yes, first week of April, we're ready to practice,' then the whole COVID thing happens."
Opening night at Berlin was originally scheduled to be April 18. Now, drivers still don't know when the green flag will drop on the season.
"All winter you have in mind that you're going to go out and win opening night," said 16-year-old super late model driver, Evan Shotko, "then it just gets pushed back and pushed back. It's frustrating but what can you do about it?"
Saturday's practice session featured empty grandstands closed to spectators and COVID-19 paperwork for all team members and drivers to sign.
"We have to make sure we're safe," Bursley added, "and that the community is safe. I think everyone is to the point now where it's like, 'hey let's go back and do it as long as we can be pretty cautious about it yet.'"
The raceway is in contact with local health officials trying to get the okay to begin a season with limited fans in attendance, but they still aren't sure when it will happen.
"The county is unsure. I'd love to say we're going to open next week but I don't think that's the case. This practice is a stepping stone for us to get that point, though," said Bursley.
It may not have been a Saturday night under the lights but the drivers are just thankful they were able to get back on the track.
"The racing community is one big family, it's like a big family reunion down here in the pits," Shotko added, "everybody is happy to see each other, it's been a while."