Mike Gular, a long time campaigner at Grandview Speedway, Big Diamond Raceway and other area tracks, is ready for even more dirt track Modified racing in 2018. He is becoming a traveling man.
Following in the footsteps of his dad Rudy, one of the most popular racers in the area for years, Boyertown’s Gular is considered one of the top talents in local dirt track Modified racing. After averaging less than 30 races per season over the last two years, Gular is slated to compete in both the Halmar International North and Velocita-USA South factions of the Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled by Sunoco (STSS), in addition to his normal Saturday night plans at Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville, Pa. Mike has been to victory lane four times in Modified features at the popular dirt track.
Gular finished fourth in the final TP Trailers NASCAR Modified standings at Grandview last season and had one main event win in what was one of the most competitive seasons seen there during the 55-year history of the track.
“(Traveling with the STSS) is something we definitely wanted to do,” Gular said. “It just never was an opportunity for us over the last couple of seasons.”
In 2017, the 34-year-old machinist had planned on competing in a variety of different races through a partnership with Jim Reid, but lost a motor in the season opener, limiting his schedule to Grandview, aboard the Rich Stankiewicz-owned No. 2. Meanwhile, Terry Fasnacht, a prominent car owner in the area, had cars ready as his regular driver Danny Erb was recovering from health issues.
“Originally, the plan was just to run a couple Friday nights at Big Diamond (in Minersville, Pa.), and then Terry asked if there were any other races we wanted to run,” Gular explained. “So, we started to move around a little, and had some success.”
The turning point, Gular said, was at the STSS-sanctioned Short Track SuperNationals 10, at Afton (N.Y.) Motorsports Park. The team scored a third-place finish, storming through the uber-competitive field for the pair’s best result together.
“That weekend really sealed the deal for this year,” Gular noted. “That result kind of showed Terry that we can do this, and it isn’t out of this world. We slapped together a program at the end of the year and were still competitive.”
This year, Fasnacht has provided Gular with a couple of Bicknell cars, his preferred chassis, along with multiple motor combinations to tackle the different styles of tracks on the STSS circuit. The car will carry sponsorship from Fasnacht’s Coventry Kitchens.
The Short Track Super Series visits 13 different tracks in 17 sanctioned events in 2018. The diversity of facilities, along with the money involved, is what separated the STSS from other possibilities, in Gular’s mind.
“We looked into running Friday nights, but it turns into a grind, and doing the same thing gets old, and things get stale,” Gular said. “The point fund (with the STSS) is incredible, the payout is incredible, and this gives you a great chance to get a return on your money.
“Plus, seeing a different place is neat,” he said. “Sometimes you run out of ideas when things aren’t going well (running the same track), but when you travel you get to see more things, encounter more problems and find different solutions for those problems. All of that can help you at your Saturday night track.”
Gular cut his teeth on small, bullring-like racetracks, most notably at Grandview and Penn Can Speedway in Susquehanna, Pa. Those types of tracks on the STSS tour definitely appeal to him, but he’s looking forward to switching things up.
“I’m really excited to go everywhere,” Gular said. “Woodhull (N.Y.) looks awesome; Accord (N.Y.) is really tight, but it races really wide, and I’ve had success at Afton (N.Y.). But, I’ve never been to places like Orange County (N.Y.), so I don’t really know what to expect, or what it races like, but I’m interested to see how I can adapt.”
Gular will begin his season at the STSS opener, as part of Georgetown (Del.) Speedway’s Melvin L. Joseph Memorial weekend on March 16-17.
“We’ll be ready for both nights,” said the veteran racer.
And Gular will also be ready for the big $7,500 to win, 50-lap Small Block-Big Block Modified race being run in memory of the late Grandview Speedway track owner Bruce Rogers on Saturday, April 7th. A strong field of racing talent is expected for this event which will see each starter in the 50-lapper earn at least $1,000. Also included in the night of racing action will be the Sportsman stock cars. This is a non-point event with no NASCAR license required and no entry fee being charged. The Late Models will kick off their season on April 14th.
“I can’t thank my crew, sponsors and family enough. We’ve been working really hard this winter, and we can’t do this without them putting up with us not being around.”
Race fans are also reminded that action at Grandview Speedway gets underway on Saturday, March 24th when the Outlaw Enduros and Blast from the Past Vintage Cars provide doubleheader action starting at 1 p.m. There is a March 25th rain date.
WIN SOME DOVER CUP TICKETS >> WNPV Radio in Lansdale is offering the opportunity to win tickets for the NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover International during the weekend of May 4-6. WNPV 1440 AM and 98.5 FM along with Dover are offering five pairs of tickets. In order to win them all you have to do is go online to wnpv1440.com/dover and fill out the entry form. Check the contest page for complete rules and ticket information.
Our buddy Joe Moskal of WNPV will be at Grandview on a Saturday night in April to give away some Dover tickets. Watch for the date to be announced.
A big thank you goes out to Cody Manmiller for providing some of the information used in this article.