When NASCAR drivers roll into town at Watkins Glen International for the big NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend, road racing isn’t the only thing on their minds. Each year, a handful of these racers come out and support local grassroots racing and a popular racing charity as a part of their finger-lakes region weekend. On Aug. 5, they will convene at Outlaw Speedway (formerly Black Rock Speedway) for the 9th Annual Michael McDowell MRO Night to benefit Motor Racing Outreach.
One of the event regulars, Michael McDowell, cut his teeth in road course racing. Since his first MRO Night, McDowell has developed a true passion for dirt track racing. This year, the driver of the Thrivent Financial #95 Sprint Cup Series Chevrolet adds his name to the title of the event.
“MRO does so much for our racing community from the NASCAR Sprint Cup level to Short Tracks across the country,” says McDowell. “MRO Night is one of the most fun things we do all year and I really look forward to it. I love racing these dirt Modifieds too. They are a blast. It’s nice to put on a show for some great race fans, give them a thrill and even meet some of them. To do this all at a faith-based Motorsports event for a wonderful Christian organization like MRO makes it all come full circle for me.”
In last year’s running of the event, David Ragan charged to the win over Trevor Bayne, McDowell and Alex Bowman.
NASCAR XFINITY Series driver JJ Yeley has competed in all but two of the MRO Night events at the popular Dundee clay oval and is looking to return to Outlaw Speedway victory lane.
“I always look forward to getting the call to help MRO with this event,” admits Yeley, a former winner of the event. “MRO is always there for my NASCAR family. It’s a race for charity but also a chance to have fun on dirt! Two of my favorite things.”
For MRO President Billy Mauldin, this event is more than just fundraising.
“This event really shows what MRO is about,” stated Mauldin. “It’s a community gathering. We fundraise, pray on the drivers and fans before the race and have a lot of fun behind the scenes as a racing community.”
In addition to the race, MRO will sponsor a silent auction located behind the main grandstands, offering several unique items autographed by various drivers.
“The fans will have an opportunity to bid for some truly unique items,” said Mauldin. “These items are donated and signed specifically for this event by a lot of the top drivers in our sport.”
McDowell hopes that the fans come out in droves for a great night of racing and they leave with a fulfilling experience.
“Some will leave with a great item from the silent auction, some with an autograph, and all of them will walk out seeing a very entertaining race,” promises McDowell.
Winners of Michael McDowell MRO Night include David Reuttiman (2008), Bob Decker (2009), JJ Yeley (2010), Michael McDowell (2011, 2013), Ryan Blaney (2012), Trevor Bayne (2014) and David Ragan (2015).
Michael McDowell MRO Night starts with local racing action (features only program) at Outlaw Speedway starting at 7 p.m. The 12-Lap driver match race is tentatively scheduled for 8:30 p.m.. Media availability and the traditional group photo will take place on the frontstretch following the race. Local racing at Outlaw will also include the popular 360 Patriot Sprint Car Tour. Tickets are $20, Seniors are $18 and kids under-12 are admitted free.