Amateur driving in harness racing has long been a part of the sport's rich history. Tough economic times have made it difficult for racetracks to survive and when it came to Amateur driving, many tracks were reluctant to put such races 'on the card' in front of the betting public.
.....but a renaissance of sorts is taking place in Michigan, at least in terms of putting die-hard amateur drivers that are licensed as "A" or "P" drivers on the racetrack and it all is set to begin at Hazel Park Raceway on Monday, May 17th and will continue each Monday night at the 5/8th mile oval through the end of the season.
The term ‘amateur' for this series simply means the driver has not accepted compensation for his/her drives in the past ten years.
The Great Lakes Amateur Drivers Association, known as GLADA, has been re-born and a new series is soon to be launched, under the interim Presidency of former CKG Billings National Champion, owner/driver Steve Oldford.
Steve got the ear of Hazel Park officials and hammered out an arrangement whereby Charities, of Hazel Park's choosing will supported thanks to the $50 declaration fee that each driver will pay for each start they make.
The series will feature point standings, a season championship, awards presentations and the leading driver on September 1 will represent GLADA in the annual Tim Fouts Memorial Race at the Delaware County Fair in Ohio, home to the famed Little Brown Jug Harness Race. The series is being initially focused on drivers residing in Michigan.
Amateur racing and GLADA in particular is working to overcome the image or misconception that amateur means novice. Keep in mind all drivers must be licensed in good standing and have a A or P license to compete and many Michigan amateur's who are horse owners and trainershave driven many times among the ‘regular drivers colony' at numerous pari-mutual racetracks throughout the country and in Canada.
While the series is about the drivers, the conditions for the race are also important to note. Each event will be for Michigan owned or bred trotters that are N/W $2,400L6 or N/W $2800L7 with age allowances, must be N/W of $12,000 in 2010 or optional $7,500 claimers w/allowances.
Drivers are encouraged to secure their own mount but may also be place on a list of available drivers without a horse by contacting Tammy Johnson at, firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 734-732-0640. The purse for the race as shown on the Hazel Park Condition Sheet is $2,700.
This series should add new flavor and excitement at Hazel Park and its sure to bring in some new fans that in some way know or follow their amateur favorites from place to place. For more information on GLADA, interested parties may contact Steve Oldford via e-mail at, email@example.com.
Dale P. ZAHN