The start of a new racing season at the Mt. Pleasant Speedway
is just a few short weeks away, and the audience can expect to see a few familiar faces.
Before the gates open to the public, a few of the returning racers are sharing how they started their racing journey and the impact the sport has had on their lives.
Heather Guild’s race car from the 2021 racing season at Mt. Pleasant Speedway.Heather Guild
Going to the track was a childhood activity for hobby stock racer Heather Guild, and she used to do big box figure eights before moving on to dirt track.
But long before then, she used to ride horses, and it wasn’t until she met her husband, who she described as a motorhead, that she considered getting involved in racing.
“And he said, ‘How about I trade you horses for horsepower?’” says Guild. “So I tried it and loved it, and just continued up the chain.”
Starting her racing journey came with a standard learning curve for new racers, but it also came with a learning curve specific to being a female racer. None of the male racers ever said anything to Guild about her gender, but she says they always pushed her harder on the track and tried to scare her a bit, but it only inspired her to push back.
“That's when I realized that I was going to have to push harder than the other people,” she says. “So I was pushing back, and then they realized that she's a competitor, regardless of what her gender is. So now they just treat me like another equal racer.”
It’s an experience that’s also encouraged her to have solidarity with her fellow female drivers. Guild says she always cheers them on from the sidelines, even if they’re in the same class as her.
Guild participated in last year’s season and said she’s looking forward to getting back on the track. When she first started out, she felt like an outsider, but now, she’s “gained one big family” in the racing community.
When the COVID-19 pandemic was causing shutdowns and changes in other aspects of Guild’s routine, she says the track is the one thing that stayed consistent.
“I think it remained the same,” she says. “It was one of the normalities that I look forward to every year, or next season, because not much changes.”
One thing that has changed is the theme for Guild’s Monte Carlo Chassis, which is going to be painted white and hot pink.
Although Guild has broken gender norms with her racing, she has been a mother and son team for the last seven years and says her son has been a big part of her racing journey.
Shane Forman poses with his wife, Regina Forman, in front of his race car.
Racing has been a longtime interest for four-cylinder racer Shane Forman. He watched the sport on television and had always been involved, but he didn’t start racing himself until he met some friends at Merritt Speedway in Houghton Lake. Then, he moved over to Mt. Pleasant Speedway.
“Watching when I was younger helped a little bit to get me involved because I always wanted to race, but my grandma didn't want me racing at that time because I was young,” he says. “So growing up, always wanted to race, so it's always been a passion.”
After racing for nearly five years, Forman says what brings him the most fulfillment is seeing the fans’ faces, and the kids’ faces light up when the cars come out on the track.
Over the years, Forman says he’s made a lot of improvement in his racing.
Shane Foreman pilots his vehicle at the Mt. Pleasant Speedway
“I'm getting better, it just takes a lot of practice,” he says. “I just got my motor redone, so that's been a lot on me, trying to get that back in the truck to get back out there this year.”
Maintaining a vehicle over a long period of time is one of the bigger struggles he experiences with racing, especially with being on a budget.
“I'm doing it pretty much paycheck to paycheck, because it's just me and my wife, usually,” he says. “I’ve got like friends that help me out with the racetrack and everything, but pretty much at home, it’s just me and my wife.”
Despite the pitfalls that come with maintenance, Forman says his racing friends have become like family.
Something that he’s looking forward to for the 2022 season is the chance to actually complete a season, which he hasn’t done yet.
“I really haven't had a chance to finish the whole season yet, because I end up with a lot of problems at the end of the year, whatever, car breaks down, no money to fix it,” Forman says. “So usually, my goal is just to finish the year.”
Regarding the impact that racing has had on his life, he says it’s made him a better person.
“When I'm out there racing, I don't think about anything,” he says. “I don't think about problems or anything. When I get in the car, my problems just go away, at least for that night, they go away.”
Ella Bringer poses in front of the Mt. Pleasant Speedway's grandstands, wearing her suit and holding her helmet by her side.
At just 10 years old, mini wedge racer Ella Bringer has been racing almost as long as some pros. She started off snowmobile racing at just 5 years old.
Something that’s inspired her racing career has been the 2020 movie Lady Driver.
“I wanted to get involved because I looked at it and said, ‘I can do that,’” says Bringer.
Even though she’s young, Bringer said racing doesn’t scare her at all, and that her cousins and other family members are always on the sidelines cheering her on.
Ella Bringer races her mini wedge car during the 2021 racing season at the Mt. Pleasant Speedway.
“To be honest, I was very worried about safety,” says mom Ashley.
After seeing the extensive amount of gear her daughter would be wearing, paired with the fact that an enclosed space is more protective than open air, like snowmobiles, she felt more comfortable.
This year, Bringer will be racing in the 10 to 14 unrestricted mini wedge class. She says the thing she’s most excited about is to go fast.
As a bit of an adrenaline junkie, Bringer said she loves high speeds, but she isn’t a fan of other extremes like roller coasters with big drops.
Bringer’s friends at school all think her racing is cool, and a few of them may actually join her on the track. She’s also been able to make some new friends through racing.
This is also Bringer’s first year with sponsors, including her mom, dad, uncle, and racer Mike Engelhardt.
More information on the Mt. Pleasant Speedway and the upcoming 2022 season can be found at mtpleasantspeedway.com