Benson becomes part owner of Berlin speedway

Johnny Benson says he isn't trying to keep up with his MB2 Motorsports teammate Ken Schrader and he's a long way off from equaling Bruton Smith's portfolio of racetracks. But the driver of the ...

Benson becomes part owner of Berlin speedway

Johnny Benson says he isn't trying to keep up with his MB2 Motorsports teammate Ken Schrader and he's a long way off from equaling Bruton Smith's portfolio of racetracks. But the driver of the #10 Aaron's Pontiac admits it's kind of cool to be a part owner in a race track even if he claims his portion of the ownership only includes the first turn.

Benson recently joined the local minor league baseball team in the purchase of Berlin Raceway near his hometown of Grand Rapids, Mich. Benson and Whitecaps Racing Development will oversee the racing at the 50-year-old .4-mile paved oval. Benson and his father John Benson won eight track championships at Berlin.

Berlin hosts Saturday night late-model races and has plans for an ARCA, ASA, sprints and modified races. He even hopes to have Winston Cup stars make appearances. Benson raced a dirt car at Schrader's Pevley, Mo. track in July.

Benson On His Involvement At Berlin
"Schrader found out about it so he came up to me the other day and said "Hey, I have two World of Outlaw races at my track. How about you?" I told him we had to work on that. Not a lot of people have heard about it yet so I haven't gotten too much advice. I think Humpy Wheeler once said running a track is all about the three T's. Tickets, traffic and toilets. If you get the those figured out the rest is easy."

Plans To Purchase More Tracks?
"You never know. I just wanted to be part of a race track that's near my hometown and that has a lot of racing history associated with it. My Dad raced and won championships at Berlin Raceway and I won there so there is a lot of Benson family history there as well. It's kind of like getting to own the favorite place where you hung out as a kid. This doesn't have anything to do with just having a track somewhere in the country. I'm not Bruton Smith. I don't think I'll be buying any more tracks in the near future. NASCAR doesn't have to worry about me. One is enough. This is a case of being able to do something for a track I have been part of for many years. Plus I tell people I only own turn one."

How Active Will You Be At Berlin?
"I'm not going to be that active. I have a lot of other things to do in racing. From the competitor side, I might be a consultant and help them out giving them the racer's perspective on rules, rule changes, and kind of the direction it needs to go or needs to stay. One of the primary goals is to make sure it doesn't become too expensive to race. A lot of the guys who race there on a weekly basis don't have a lot of money. We don't want to change the rules every year and make it hard on them financially."

What Can You Apply That You Learned In NASCAR?
"I think there is some things we do in NASCAR that you can apply at Berlin. But I don't know what. The Whitecaps are doing the marketing end, they can come up with some suggestions, and I can tell them if it worked or didn't work down here. But we are talking about two deals that are so different in size. I'm not sure what works at Daytona and Charlotte will work at Berlin.

"Our main goal is to give the fans a good show. We will have the modifieds, sprint cars and ASA coming plus our normal weekly deal. I went up there for the press announcement and will go up there in the winter just to see what is going on. I hope to run a couple races there through the summer; maybe some Wednesday night shows and maybe some Saturday night shows. I'll try to get some of the Winston Cup guys to race there as well. I got to race at Schrader's track this summer so maybe I can convince him to come up to my place now."

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