Team Bio

Meet Our Team – Powered by Baker Engineering
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 The Drivers

Dave Lake (top left) 97L Modified
Terry Van Haitsma (top right) 21L Super Late
Tony Caputo (bottom left ) 97L Mini Wedge
Nate Walton (bottom right) 66L Super Late
Click on photo’s to enlarge.

12 Year old Tony Caputo in teams NEW Mini Wedge

Twelve year old Tony Caputo and his family will be joining the RA family as driver of the team’s new 97L Mini Wedge.  Tony was selected from a number of interested families after the announcement on FB that a new car would be made available to one child with a past or present affiliation with Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.  Tony Caputo

Tony, his mom, dad, and two sisters will formally join the RA team at the Michigan International Auto Show, Thursday February 3rd through Sunday February 5, at the DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids. Tony’s brand new @MiniWedgeAssociation car will also be on display along with its big brother, the RA 97L modified.  Both cars will get all of their new graphics applied at the show on Friday and Saturday by @HorvathDesign. New look and new colors for 2017? Come check it out.

Tony is a well-rounded young man with many interests including basketball, baseball, Boy Scouts, school musicals, and choir. But while he stays active in a variety of ways, his first love is racing.  Tony has been racing go-karts for six years at the Ravana Motorsports Track where he won two championships.

The @BerlinRaceway announced late last year that the Mini Wedge Division would be a new addition to the weekly racing line-up.  The series has drivers that range from 6 to 14 years old.  The drivers will compete on the front-stretch of the race track that has seen a change over the off-season to accommodate the new division of racing.   

The season opens for all of the RA cars on opening night; the Ice Breaker on April 22, 2017. See the complete schedule and find out when the RA cars will be on the track at https://racingawareness.com/media

Nate Walton joins RA to drive the 66L Super Late Model

Nate, a 27 year old driver from Hudsonville MI, will join the RacingAwareness.com team and drive the number 66 Super Late.  For Walton, this will be his 4th year driving in the tracks premier division.IMG_8095

Flip Dog, a nickname earned after rolling his  4-cylinder race car at the Winston Speedway, began racing go karts at the age of 9.  By age 17, Nate was racing at the Berlin Raceway in the Super Stock division, claiming the division title in 2011. In 2014, the family run operation made the big jump to Super Late Models winning Rookie of the Year honors. This past season was Nate’s break out year with 4 top 5 finishes. In fact, every start in 2016 was 7th or better for the talented driver.

“We couldn’t be happier about having Nate and his family with us as we begin the new year” said Norm Jelsma, co-owner of RacingAwareness.com. “This might be the smoothest, most overlooked driver at the track. We have very high expectations of both Nate and Terry this year”.

In all, Nate has feature victories at Ravana Motorsports Park, Winston Speedway, Thunderbird Raceway, Crystal Speedway and the Berlin Raceway.  

Nate will join Van Haitsma in the team’s two Super Lates. For Terry, he too is looking for big things from his new teammate. “I can’t wait to start working with him” Terry said. “I think the two of us can create a chemistry that will benefit us both. I expect him to push me and I plan to push him. This will make our team stronger”.

Both Nate and Terry will enter the 2017 season with Van Doorn Racing Development race cars powered by Baker Engineering engines.  The season opens for all of the RA cars on opening night; the Ice Breaker on April 22, 2017. See the complete schedule and find out when the RA cars will be on the track at https://racingawareness.com/media


Dave Lake Set For Another Championship Run In 2017

Dave Lake, returns to the team’s 97L RacingAwareness.com supporting Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital modified for the 2017 season after capturing the modified championship in 2016.  Dave also won the Modified Championship in 2011 driving the RA 97L.

The 97L modified was the first car the RA team purchased when the decision to race was made in 2010. The car was built by Mike Bursley, then owner of Perfect Circle Race Cars and has been the car to beat ever since. In all, six different drivers have been behind the wheel of the modified, all recording at least one feature win. In 2010, Mike Bursley recorded 2 wins, while AJ Allmendinger and Mike Skinner each drove the car and each picked up feature victories. Lake, took over for Bursley in 2011 and scored seven wins during his championship season.  Kevin DeGood drove the modified in 2012 and 2013 racking up eight wins. Ben Welch has driven the car most recently in 2014 and 2015, recording a win on opening night in 2014, the first time behind the wheel, at age 16. Ben went on to record four feature wins and the championship in 2015, his first and the team’s second in the modified division.

Lake is the track’s only driver to capture championships in three different divisions; Pro Stock in 2006, Super Stock in 2007 and the Modified championship in 2011 & 2016.  DSC04833

Lake began his racing career 1992 and he and his family joined RacingAwareness.com in 2011.  Also in 2011, Johnny Benson Jr drove the first RA Super Late, but after one year, decided to chase a ISMA Super Modified championship. Johnny’s departure left the Super Late seat open and Dave stepped right in capturing rookie of the year honors in 2012, finishings 8th in series points. In 2013, Dave was voted Most Improved Driver and recorded a 4th place finish in the SLM division.  Dave also drove the super late the past two years finishing 6th and 5th in the points standing in 2014 and 2015.  

2016 Berlin Raceway Super Late Champion Terry Van Haitsma is Ready to Go

When the checkered flag dropped over the Super Late Model feature on championship night at the Berlin Raceway, 2016, the the hotly contested season was decided by just 1-point. Terry Van Haitsma claimed the championship over Nate Walton (who now drivers the RA teams other SL). DSC04773

Now a three-time Berlin Raceway track champion, Terry Van Haitsma. Terry, owner of Premier Metal Products, is a 36 year old driver from Hudsonville Michigan. He and his wife, Marcy, have a son, Harvey.  Terry has been a fan favorite at the Berlin Raceway over the past 15 years.

Terry’s short track career in highlighted by his two Super Late Model track championships at the Berlin Raceway, 2012 & 2016. 

Van Haitsma began racing in the Sportsman division at Berlin in 2003; one year later, he won the Sportsman championship. In 2006, 07 and 09, Van Haitsma finished runner up in the Outlaw Late Model division.  Terry has raced only part time, with focus on family and business since his Super Late title.  In all, Terry has captured 19 feature wins, three championships  and the respect of drivers and fans alike.

The Owners

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Jeff Striegle, Rusty Wallace,  Norm Jelsma & Lisa Davan:  2015 RA Charity Golf Outing

 Jeff Striegle
Owner: RacingAwareness Inc

Jeff is retired from Gordon Food Service Store (21 years) in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Jeff is a radio broadcaster for the Motor Racing Network, which covers NASCAR. 2017 makes the 19th year of broadcasting for MRN Radio. Prior to MRN, Jeff co-hosted radio broadcasts of the Berlin Raceway. Striegle got his start in racing back in 1983 as a driver in open-wheel cars.

Norm Jelsma
Owner: RacingAwareness Inc

Norm is employed at Lesley Elizabeth Inc. as a national sales manager.  Norm recently retired from his role as the ‘Voice of the Berlin Raceway’ where he served as the track’s Public Address Announcer for 19 year. During that time, he was recognized with the State’s Track Announcer of the Year award. Prior to announcing, Norm worked with the Berlin Raceway Safety Crew.

Phil Kowatch: Korte & Kowatch 
Treasure: RacingAwareness.com

Lisa Davan
Director of Charity Giving: RacingAwareness.com 

The Corporate Partners

You see our list of corporate partners, but what you don’t see are the extraordinary leaders that make these companies special. Each of our partners is unique in their own way, but share one common belief, that there is more to life than just sales.

The Track

The Berlin Raceway, located in Marne, MI, is just 10 minutes from downtown Grand Rapids. The facility, considered one of the premier paved short tracks in the nation, begins its 66th year of operation. The 2016 season promises to be one of the best on record. The facility boasts a dynamic race schedule along with many exciting changes designed to make this a true family entertainment venue. www.berlinraceway.com

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