Great Lakes Traditional Sprints

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I-96 Speedway

I-96 Speedway

I-96 Speedway

I-96 Speedway



Great Lakes Traditional Sprints


Owendale, MI – In the inaugural Great Lakes Traditional Sprints presented by Comp Cams season opener, Brian Ruhlman (Clark Lake, MI) takes the first checkered flag, giving Ruhlman his first ever victory in a sprint car! Yes, you heard that right…Brian Ruhlman, the accomplished veteran of racing late models and modifieds has won his first feature in a full sized, non-wing sprint car at Silver Bullet Speedway!

It was only appropriate that the first race of the season ended up at Silver Bullet! Silver Bullet Speedway has been a big supporter for the Michigan Traditional Sprints, which has now become GLTS. The afternoon was a hot one out in the thumb of Michigan. With temps topping 90 degrees , the breeze kicked up and with rain going around the track, but the evening ended up being a beautiful night to race.

Making the long haul, we had 15 cars registered and suited up to take on the fun ¼ mile track located 2 miles east of Owendale, Michigan. The cars hit the track around 6:40 pm to hot lap and qualify in groups of 3. As the cars finished up, Stevie Irwin (Fenton, MI) sat on top as the fast qualifier, turning a 15.102 second lap. Max Frank (Williamston, MI), Ruhlman, Joey Irwin (Davison, MI) and Mike Astrauskas (Pierson, MI) rounded out the top 5.

Mike Galajda (Fenton, MI) led out the first group of cars in the Rocket Headers Heat 1. As the green flag dropped Galajda beats everyone into turn 1. With the cars bunched up in turn 1 and headed into turn 2, Ruhlmans car makes contact with another car and Ruhlman ends up kissing a tire and bending his front axle, but is able to continue after being pushed off. With the battle up front between Irwin, Galajda and Astrauskas, the action was in the back of the field as Ruhlman methodically picked off 5 cars and clawed his way into a 3rd place finish and being in the redraw. Irwin took the checked flag with Galajda finishing 4 seconds behind Irwin.

In the Beacon & Bridge Markets Heat 2, long time racer Gary Hayward (Auburn Hills, MI) brought the field to the line as the green flag dropped. As the field completed their first lap, Jim Girand (Manistee, MI) running third, did a full 360 spin and kept going in the bottom of turns 1 and 2. Evidently, liking the spin move Girard did, RJ Payne (Montrose, MI) decided to pull the same maneuver off at the top of turns 3 and 4. In the end, Frank took the checkered for his first heat race win! Joey Irwin, Girand, Hayward and Mark Irwin (Columbiaville, MI) rounded out the top 5.

Drawing a 1 in the redraw, Ruhlman had the honor of bringing out the field of cars for the nights A-Main Feature. As the green flag drops and the whole field goes into turn 1, Galajda finds himself in the air with only his front right wheel touching the ground after making contact with the Flying Zero of Stevie Irwin. Some how recovering, but losing 2 positions, the cars quickly click off 9 laps. As the leaders are nearing the flag stand, Payne, Cody Howard (Millington, MI) and Robert Bulloch (Pittsford, MI) get together and scatter like pin balls at the top of turns 3 and 4 bringing out the first caution.

After a couple more quick cautions, the leaders crossed the start line with 5 laps to go. With Stevie Irwin trying to get around Ruhlman for the lead, suddenly the bank of lights in the front stretch go out, leaving the grandstands in the dark. With the cars stopped on the track and the track officials are busy correcting the lighting problem, an open red is called and the cars are topped off with fuel, with the lap count approaching 90 laps.

With the lighting restored and the cars fired once again, Ruhlman brings the field out of turn 4 once again trying to hold off Irwin and Galajda. With 3 laps to go, Galajda and Joey Irwin get around the Flying Zero as he gets loose in the bottom of turns 3 and 4. A late caution comes out as the white flag is being shown, when RJ Payne gets loose in the top of turns 3 and 4 and he backs his car down off the track. With only two laps to go and Ruhlman still in front, the battle between Galajda, Joey Irwin, Stevie Irwin and Jay Steinbach was going to be fierce when the green flag flies.

The crowd wasn’t disappointed as Galajda makes a move to get around Ruhlman with one lap to go. Galajda tries to go high coming out of turn 2, but gets too high and into the loose marbles, giving Joey Irwin the chance to move into second. But with Galajda high and loose and the Flying Zero taking advantage by ducking under Galajda, the two Irwin cars make contact. The Double Zero gets pushed to the infield and comes to a stop as the Flying Zero and Galajda go 2 and 3 at the finish line, 4 tenths of a second behind Ruhlman who took the checkered flag. Astrauskas and Steinbach rounded out the top 5, leaving Joey Irwin settling for a disappointing 9th place finish.

Thank you to our fans for coming out for our first race of the season and thank you to our sponsors: Comp Cams, Engine Pro, Rocket Headers, Beacon & Bridge Markets, Specialty Fuels and Logistics and Addvanced Heating and Cooling.

Our next scheduled race is Friday, July 3rd at I-96 Speedway. Please follow us on Facebook and check our website regularly for updates at .

Article Credit: GLTS Staff

Submitted By: Barry Marlow

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