NASCAR Cup Series driver and Michigan native Erik Jones is returning to his roots on May 19 by hosting a fundraising event at Birch Run Speedway for his Erik Jones Foundation.
The 4/10-mile oval just 15 miles southeast of Saginaw is where Jones cut his racing teeth on his way to the elite NASCAR Cup Series. Today, the track is putting the finishing touches on a massive makeover that will be ready in time for the 2022 racing season. Part of the renovation includes a new event center, and the Erik Jones Foundation will christen the space with its first fundraiser of 2022 called 3 Reasons to Race, which aligns with the three pillars of the Erik Jones Foundation – igniting children’s passion for reading, encouraging early cancer detection and care, and promoting animal welfare.
Beginning at 5 p.m. EDT on May 19, 3 Reasons to Race will include a unique race-gaming experience where guests can win cash and prizes. There will also be a 50/50 raffle and a silent auction featuring mementos from such notable NASCAR personalities as Richard Petty, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Ty Dillon and Jones, as well as other items, including four round-trip tickets on Allegiant Air, authentic sports items from the Detroit Tigers and Flint Firebirds, and two tickets to the FireKeepers Casino 400 NASCAR Cup Series race on Aug. 7 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.
“I love going back home and reconnecting with friends and family, and now we’re able to do it with our foundation and raise money for a great cause,” said Jones, a native of Byron who owns 18 wins across NASCAR’s top-three national touring series – Cup (two), Xfinity (nine) and Camping World Truck (seven). “May is National Skin Cancer and Melanoma Awareness Month, and a portion of the proceeds from this event will be donated to the Melanoma Research Foundation, a group I’ve worked with for several years. I lost my dad to cancer, and it’s made me so mindful of how important early detection is, because the sooner you diagnose it, the more options you have for treatment. This fundraiser will go directly toward research that provides those options.”
The 3 Reasons to Race fundraiser is highlighted by an immersive race-gaming event that includes a 15-foot long gameboard emulating an oval racetrack. Attendees purchase “Birch Run Bucks” from the “pit” and then place their bets on any of six 1/10th-scale racecars of their choice. After all bets are in, the payout odds are calculated. Jones, serving as grand marshal of the event, will call for the engines to fire, whereupon participants are off to the races, cheering on their favorite car in hopes of winning cash and prizes. Ping-pong balls drawn two at a time advance the cars on the gameboard each time their number is drawn. Those with bets on the first car that crosses the finish line, win. And to the victor go the spoils, as only the winners are paid from all of the bets placed. Tickets to support this fundraiser are available at 3 Reasons to Race Tickets.
Even with a new look, Birch Run Speedway is very familiar to Jones. He made his mark at the track as a 14-year-old when in August of 2010, he won the Bob Cross Memorial, becoming the youngest winner in ASA Late Model history. Now a 25-year-old in his sixth full season competing in the NASCAR Cup Series, Jones remains a proud Michigander. He chose Birch Run Speedway for his foundation’s event because of his history at the track, but also to help promote the upgrades across the multipurpose facility.
The figure-eight track and the quarter-mile oval located inside the 4/10-mile oval have been repaved. The 4/10-mile oval has gone untouched as its surface is a favorite of racers, allowing them multiple lanes to find speed and make passes. Pit road, however, has fresh asphalt, and 20 new concrete slabs were added to the pit area, enhancing working conditions for crews.
Improvements extend to fan amenities too. The parking lot has been repaved, and the event center’s pavilion has been enclosed with sliding glass doors on every wall, allowing it to be used throughout the year, regardless of weather. Soon, Birch Run Speedway will be home to Michigan’s longest bar, with a 130-foot long serving area dubbed “Gas Alley” replete with more than 50 TVs and additional high-top tables and chairs.
Attendees can see the revamped Birch Run Speedway in person all while supporting the Erik Jones Foundation. Silent auction items and sponsor opportunities are available for anyone who would like to donate. For more information on each, please email [email protected] To purchase tickets, please go to 3 Reasons to Race Tickets.
Sponsors already on board with 3 Reasons to Race include UBS Financial Services, Johnson and Wood Mechanical Contractors, Industrial Propane Service, Alan R. Miller P.C., Brad Keselowski and Tina Eller and Thomas Barth.