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RACING 101

If all you know about short track dirt racing is that the cars turn left and drive in a circle, then this page was made for YOU! Take some time to read through this page and we'll bet you'll have a lot more engaging experience and that you won't feel lost while visiting Thunderbird Raceway on a Saturday night.

Thunderbird Raceway races seven car classes on a weekly basis: UMP Late Models, IMCA Modifieds, Pro Late Models, Factory Stocks, Cyber Stocks, Warriors, and Mini Wedges (kids).

LATE MODEL


Fastest cars on the race track on a given race night. The most exciting racing experience.


  • Late Models can range anywhere between $20,000 – $75,000 depending on the type of chassis (car frame) and engine.
  • Average track record speed at Thunderbird Raceway is 100 MPH.
  • During a race, Late Models average 80 MPH in the corners and 100 on the straight-a-ways.
  • Drivers may want to race in this class for the high speeds, horse power, prestige of racing in the highest division, no limits on how much you can invest into your car.


IMCA MODIFIED


Fast and affordable to race.


  • IMCA Modifieds can range anywhere between $8,000 – $25,000 depending on the type of chassis (car frame) and engine.
  • Average track record speed at Thunderbird Raceway is 90 MPH.
  • During a race, IMCA Modifieds average 70 MPH in the corners and 90 on the straight-a-ways.
  • IMCA Modifieds use a Hoosier 8" wide racing tire.
  • Drivers may want to race in this class for the high speeds, intense competition, and the affordability of the class.


PRO LATE MODEL


Step down from a UMP Late Model. Affordable stock car racing.


  • Pro Late Models can range anywhere between $8,000 – $25,000 depending on the type of chassis (car frame) and engine.
  • Average track record speed at Thunderbird Raceway is 85 MPH.
  • During a race, Pro Stocks average 65 MPH in the corners and 85 on the straight-a-ways.
  • Drivers may want to race in this class for the high speeds, intense competition, and no limits on how much you can invest into your engine without an engine claim in this class (buying a competitors engine to limit their performance and keep racing competitive).


CYBER STOCKS


Cars from the street, made into race cars, and tuned to their maximum potential.


  • Cyber Stocks can range anywhere between $3,000 – $15,000 depending on the type of chassis (car frame) and engine.
  • Average track record speed at Thunderbird Raceway is 81 MPH.
  • During a race, Cyber Stocks average 60 MPH in the corners and 80 on the straight-a-ways.
  • Drivers may want to race in this class for the high speeds, intense competition, and the ability to squeeze every ounce of power out of their


Warriors


Beginner class, street cars, least expensive to race.


  • Bomber Stocks can range anywhere between $500 – $3,000 depending on if the car is new or used.
  • Average track record speed at Thunderbird Raceway is 73 MPH.
  • During a race, Warriors average 55 MPH in the corners and 70 on the straight-a-ways.
  • Warriors use the same tires as your personal vehicle that you drive on the road.
  • Drivers may want to race in this class for the fun of racing, the affordability of the class, and the opportunity to gain racing skills at a beginner level.


MINI WEDGE


Kids age 6-14 learning to race.


  • Mini Wedges can range anywhere between $2,000 – $3,000 depending on if the car is new or used.
  • During a race, Mini Wedges average 25 MPH in the corners and 35 on the straight-a-ways.
  • Mini Wedges use a Hoosier racing tire that is smaller than the average lawn mower tire.
  • Mini Wedges are only allowed to use regular or premium octane gas. A Mini Wedge will go through 1 gallon of gasoline.
  • Drivers may want to race in this class for the fun of racing, the affordability of the class, and the opportunity to gain racing skills at a young age.


WINGED SPRINTS


Traveling series throughout Michigan and surrounding states.


  • Winged Sprints are a traveling series and race at different tracks throughout the surrounding states.
  • Winged Sprints can range anywhere between $20,000 – $75,000 depending on the type of chassis (car frame) and engine.
  • Average track record speed at Thunderbird Raceway is 114 MPH.
  • During a race, Winged Sprints average 100 MPH in the corners and 110 on the straight-a-ways.
  • Winged Sprints use Hoosier racing tires ranging between 18" and 21" wide on the rear and 10" on the front. Rear tires cost $180 each and front tires cost $120 each.
  • Winged Sprints use methanol ($4 per gal) fuel. On an average night, a Winged Sprint will go through 25 gallons of methanol racing fuel.
  • Drivers may want to race in this class to race at different tracks, high speeds, horse power, prestige of racing in the highest division, no limits on how much you can invest into your car and there is no engine claim in this class (buying a competitors engine to limit their performance and keep racing competitive).


GENERAL FAQ & INFORMATION


  • Anyone can own a race car. You can find them for sale in racing groups on social media.
  • Most of our drivers have a full time job and race on the weekends as a hobby. A few drivers make racing into a full time career.
  • Race cars must be built to specs to race at Thunderbird Raceway. A regular car off of the street may not race at the track. Click here to view the rules which also explains how to build the cars so they are legal to race at Thunderbird Raceway.
  • Cars need to be hauled to the race track. The main options are:
  • Flat Bed Trailer averages $4,000
  • Starter Enclosed 24' trailer averages $7,500
  • Deluxe Enclosed 34' trailer averages $15,000 – $20,000. (Room to house spare tires, work bench, tool boxes, quad, etc.)
  • Toter home trailers can range from $50,000 used to $250,000 new.
  • Weekly expenses drastically vary for each car class. All drivers need to fund the following items to race each week:
  • Fuel to drive the race car on the track.
  • Fuel to haul the race car to the track.
  • Racing tires
  • Repair damage caused from a previous race
  • Pit crew of 2-6 people to help with vehicle set up while at the races. Each person must purchase a pit passes and sign a Release and Waiver of Liability to enter into the pits to help work on the car.
  • Depending on car class, a crew can spend anywhere from 5-40 hours each week working on the car to get it race ready. This can range from attending Test & Tune practice sessions, working on the car's set up, changing broken car parts or fixing damaged caused from a previous race.
  • Drivers either own their car or might drive someone else's car. Each driver needs a pit crew (usually 2-6 people) to help them set up the car for the current track conditions. Setting up the car involves making adjustments to tires and suspension parts to get the best performance out of their car. Learning how to property set up a race car can take years of practice to get right.
  • Each driver receives a payout (purse) for putting on a show for the fans. The amount varies based on car class and where they finish in the race. CLICK HERE to view the purse for each car class.
  • The weekly payout a driver receives will never cover their weekly cost of racing or the overall investment of their race car. Drivers are always seeking business or individual sponsors to help fund their race team in exchange for publicity in the locations in which they race.
  • If you are interested in sponsoring a driver or race team, you can find out more information about them by contacting them, or by buying a pit pass and talking to drivers on race night.
  • We suggest learning about a driver/race team before sponsoring to make sure their values, believes and action on and off the track align with yours. Some drivers are out in the community volunteering with kids programs, using their race car to help raise awareness/money for a cause and others just want to race. Each driver needs funds to support their race team and some will align better with your business/personal goals more than others.


RACE FLAG COLORS AND MEANINGS


  • Green Flag – Start Flag; the green flag is waved by the flagman at the beginning of a race and after a caution to indicate the race is re-starting. It is displayed until the next caution or the end of the race.
  • Yellow Flag – Caution Flag; when waved it means there is a problem on the race surface or danger ahead. The drivers must slow down to a safe speed and may not pass.
  • Red Flag– All Stop Flag; this indicates there is an incident on the track such as an injury, rollover or fire and everybody is to pull over and stop immediately.
  • Black Flag – Penalty Flag; this flag indicates that an individual can to leave the racing surface and enter the pit area. It usually means the driver has an infraction and other times it means the driver's car is unsafe to continue racing. If the flag is ignored the driver can be in serious trouble.
  • Blue/Stripe Flag – Passing Flag; this flag is shown to slower cars that are about to be passed by the leaders. Generally the slower cars are lapped cars that have been passed by the leader more than once.
  • White Flag– Last Lap Flag; this is waved by the flagman to indicate the driver is entering the last lap.
  • Checkered Flag– Winning Flag; this is waved by the flagman at the end of the race, first for the winning car and then for all cars as the complete the lap they were on when the race ended.
  • Other Information about Racing and Flags:
  • Two Flags Crossed – Mid Point Flag; some racing organizations display two flags in an X shape to signal the drivers the race is half over.
  • Being a racetrack flagman is one of the most important jobs at a racetrack. Without question, the racetrack flagman is the sole individual responsible for alerting all drivers at once of track information.
  • While each driver wears a headset that allows him or her to hear other officials, the flagman communicates with drivers by waving different colored flags in the air. Flagmen are perched in a stand high above the starting line and they remain there until the race is complete.


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CONTACT

Email: thunderbirdracewaymi@gmail.com

Phone: 231-766-3300

Address: 350 W Riley Thompson Rd

Muskegon, MI 49445




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