Amateur harness racing racing, not to be confused with novice racing, will take center stage at Hazel Park Racetrack in Michigan on Monday night, May 17th as nine members of the reborn Great Lakes Amateur Drivers Association compete in the group's first race of the season.
The loss of racing at many Michigan County Fairs had pretty much buried amateur racing in the Wolverine State but the persistent dedication of USTA District 2A Board Member and former National Amateur Champion, Steve Oldford, has resulted in what promises to be a spirited competition at Hazel Park each Monday night throughout the meet.
Points will be kept, awards will be earned and undoubtedly some new fans will be drawn to the racetrack and perhaps best of all, Charity is the big winner!
Each driver will ante up a $50 declaration fee that Hazel Park will use to benefit the charities of their choosing. Amateur drivers compete, new fans are expected to be generated and charity is the beneficiary. A winning combination indeed!
The series opener will take place as race nmber 4 on the evenings program and will feature nine Michiganders behind trotters. 5 of the nine are owner/driver/trainers and the other 4 are 'catch drives.' After a special post parade surprise, the amateur reinsmen warriors will include from the rail out, Jim Ingersoll, Gene Miller (former National Champion and winner of both the Gold Cup and Silver Cup races at the Meadowlands), Steve Oldford, himself a past National Champion, Mitchell 'Kelly' Walker, Mike Mitchell, MHHA President and familar voice at many of the Fairs, Brett Boyd, the driving vet, Dr. Michael Caston, Jack Pasco and Craig Sebert.
Other Michigan amateurs are expected to compete in future weeks.
GLADA, as its become known will also feature as one of the grooms, Charles Blackwell, sponsored by interim organization President Oldford to attend the USTA Harness Drivers School.
In a State shrouded inn tough times where racing is working hard and struggling to survive, the Great Lakes Amateur Drivers Association is a breath of fresh air.
Harness Racing is one of the few sports where the average lady or gent with proper licensing can actually compete at the racetracks just like and often times with the regular drivers colony.
The drivers competing are passionate about the sport are looking forward to a great series while also expressing many thanks to the folks at Hazel Park who have embraced this idea for the benefit of charity.
Dale P. ZAHN