WALKER, Mich. – Brandon Hermiller and his H.S. Die/VISI-TST Ford Fusion Team will be racing again this Saturday night when Super Late Model action returns to Berlin Raceway for the first time in three weeks. But that doesn’t mean that their race cars have been sitting on jack stands in the shop and the Josh Slade-led crew has been off enjoying the warm summer days.
“Quite the contrary,” the budding Michigan racer chuckled when asked if everyone on the team had been enjoying their summer vacations. “We’ve been going over our equipment from front to back, making sure everything is in top-notch condition. And, as hard as it might be to believe with all the rain we’ve had around here, we’ve been out there testing quite a bit.
“We managed to dodge the rain last Friday (June 20) and headed for Kalamazoo Speedway,” Hermiller said of the three-eighths-mile oval near Kalamazoo whose history dates back to 1950. “We took the crate-engine car down there and got in a pretty good day of testing on that track. We’ll be back down there racing in August (in a 100-lap ARCA/CRA Super Series Powered by JEGS event) and thought it’d be a smart move to spend a day there.
“Man, I am glad we did get the opportunity to test there,” said Hermiller. “We’ve never raced at Kalamazoo, we’ve just tested there once before. It’s definitely a challenging track for sure. We were really happy with how the day went. We were able to run some 13.1 (-second) laps and that’s very respectable; especially considering the track had no syrup down on it.”
What Hermiller is referring to is the fact that Kalamazoo is among the nation’s short tracks that utilize soft drink syrup (and other ingredients) on a regular basis in an effort to create extra tire grip on the asphalt surface. Regular treatments have established the high side of the speedway as another legitimate racing line.
“I sure hope they put double the amount when we head back to race there,” chuckled Hermiller. “Down in Turns 3 & 4 there is so little room to begin with. Coming out of the corner, you’re up against the wall in such a hurry. Anything they can do to create a second groove is certainly fine by me. That race is going to be so challenging, but I am really looking forward to it.
“Then we were able to turn our focus back on Berlin this week,” said Hermiller. “We went there Wednesday (June 25) and spent time working on stuff for the next two weekends of racing. We took both cars over because we’ll be running both races during the big weekend next month at Berlin.”
Hermiller’s “big weekend” refers to the July 18-19 schedule that will see him compete in that Friday’s JEGS/CRA All-Star Tour race and Saturday’s ARCA/CRA Super Series battle.
“With the crate-engine car, we were actually able to learn some things from the Kalamazoo test that we could apply at Berlin,” Hermiller offered. “So, while many teams may have been away from the shop enjoying a lot of off time since the last race for the Supers at Berlin, we’ve not taken much down time.”
Hermiller will be returning to Berlin this Saturday night with additional confidence that he gained during his most recent visit to his home track.
“It’s going to be another opportunity to show how much progress we have made,” said Hermiller, a former Pro Stock champion and Most Popular Driver at Berlin Raceway. “The last time we raced there (on June 7), we won the fast heat and led our first laps ever in the Super Late Models in the feature. We finished fifth and had a solid night. We’re headed back looking to do even better this Saturday night.”
Hermiller’s No. 6 H.S. Die/VISI-TST Ford Fusion also carries sponsorship from River Hills Lodge, West End Body Shop, T.A.A.G. Tooling and Accessories Group, Stehouwer Frozen Foods and Beaver Research Company during the 2014 season.
Saturday’s racing card will be the Helen DeVos Childrens Hospital Night at Berlin Raceway. Fan fun will include kids’ inflatables, airbrush tattoos and spin art. Tommy from the STAR 105.7 morning show will entertain during the pre-race activities. In addition to the Super Late Models, the Modified, Sportsman and 4-Cylinder Divisions will also be action. Saturday’s admission will be $12 for adults, $8 for students and $5 for kids.