Willis Jr. Returning to Modified Racing Sunday at Claremont

As a young driver, Mike Willis, Jr. established himself as a great home track racer in his native New Hampshire at Claremont Motorsports Park, Monadnock Speedway, and the now lost Canaan Fair Speedway. Since moving up to Tour-type Modifieds, it has been Claremont where he has had two of his biggest moments.

WATCH LIVE: Modified Racing Series at Claremont

Winning there in a Tri-Track Open Modified Series event in 2018, Willis carried the momentum to 2019, with a Modified Racing Series race win at Claremont, en route to the season title. The year 2020 started with promise, finishing fourth in points in the World Series of Asphalt Racing at New Smyrna Speedway that February, before COVID-19 took hold of the nation.

 

After racing returned in June 2020, Willis’ schedule remained short, even into 2021 with his latest race being an Open Modified event at Stafford Motor Speedway in May of this year. Since then, he has kept his cars in the garage, even considering hanging up the helmet. For the time being, that won’t be the case as Willis returns to action in this Sunday’s Modified Racing Series event at Claremont.

 

He will take the wheel of the No. 76 for the Perry family.

 

“We weren’t planning on racing, but we got the call for an opportunity to drive the Perry No. 76. So, we’ll see what we can do. Not been racing much this year, been taking some time off. Really wasn’t sure if we were going to race at all anymore, they asked me on the right day I guess,” Willis told Speed51.

 

Given his success there, a chance to race a fast car at Claremont was one Willis was willing to take.

We’ve always had good success at Claremont, so it’s always good to go there. A little more intriguing to race there than anywhere else because it’s where I’m at my best. Two of the last four that we’ve won have been there. It’s a home track, I have a lot of laps there. So, there’s an advantage when we go there. It’s a different track, a lot of people don’t like it, but for me and those who call it home, it’s a lot of fun.

Willis is now the second driver to enter Sunday’s show who will be coming out of a period of inactivity on track, with another home track star and former MRS champion Dwight Jarvis also filing an entry.

 

Among the entries is Oxford Plains Speedway winner, 2017 MRS champ Anthony Nocella, along with all the regulars, including 2021 winners Jacob Perry and Brian Robie who are locked in battle for the championship.

 

“I think we’ll be able to compete, they’re really good, they’ve been strong all year. Brian and Jacob have been in the Top 3 almost every time in MRS. We’ll see if we can knock ‘em off the podium,” said Willis.

 

Beyond this Sunday, Willis has no plans to race. But the Grantham, NH native isn’t ruling out anything in the future.

 

“This will probably be the last one this year. In the future, I’ll never say never fully retired. It’d just have to be the right opportunity to go drive. I’m not sure if we’ll still have our own car then. But, if someone calls me up with an offer to drive, certainly look into taking that opportunity.”

 

See the Modified Racing Series 75-lap feature live from Claremont Motorsports Park live on Speed51.TV this Sunday, September 5.

 

-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Correspondent – Twitter: @Connor51CT

-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo

Willis Jr. Returning to Modified Racing Sunday at Claremont