Reed City athlete tests his skills at car racing

Race car winner: Ricky Droke celebrates a heat victory earlier this summer.(Courtesy photo)
Race car winner: Ricky Droke celebrates a heat victory earlier this summer.(Courtesy photo)

CHASE — Ricky Droke exceled in all the sports he performed in at Reed City with soccer, football, basketball and baseball.

But he’s not done yet even though he’s graduated from high school. Next up for Droke is dirt car racing.

Droke has been racing at various tracks including Merritt Speedway and Cherry Raceway near Traverse City. He has been working for Roger Steig, a Reed City coach, who owns Cherry Raceway.

“I’ve been around racing my whole life and I finally bought one last summer,” Droke said of his car. “I worked at Cherry for three years. When we were younger, we’d always go to races. I knew I’d be in it eventually.”

Droke’s dad Kevin notes that his son grew up in Indiana, near Indianapolis, a hotbed state and city for racing.

His car is a micro-mini sprint 600cc and races in the 600 division.

“In Michigan, he’s racing with the Hirams Lightning Sprints, he’s sanctioned with them,” Kevin said. “They’re a 1,000cc group but he races with them.”

He races at Cherry, Merritt and also at Crystal, Auburn and other tracks. He’s usually at Cherry Friday and Merritt on Saturdays while Tri-Cities is both days. He’s tied up about every Friday and Saturday since the season starts in April.

“It’s going really good,” Droke said. “I haven’t had a feature win yet but came close a couple of times.”

He has had a heat win at Cherry.

Ricky, his dad noted, owns the business, called Droke Racing.

“I’ve never done any racing,” Kevin said. “I’ve been around as a mechanic.”

This is Droke’s first year and his first race was at Tri-City in May.

“I was really nervous,” he said. “It went pretty good, not too bad. I was third or fourth in the heat race.”

Droke said he’s learning a lot about the car as he continues to improve as a driver. He’ll be racing locally until the end of August but plans on competing in Indiana through October.

There’s been no accidents yet although a tire came off in one race. When he gets a chance, he can work out at a very small track behind his house in Chase.

“If the car is not set up right, it’s not going to be easy for me to drive it,” he said. “My dad does a good job setting it up.”

“Being athletic I think has helped him,” Kevin Droke said, “and being around racing his whole life.”

Racing compared to other sports “I think is way more fun,” Ricky Droke said. “I like to see if at the beginning of the race, if someone is in front of me, I would follow him to see where he’s going. If I catch him, I just pass him. I watch to see what they do and I’ll do it.”

“Roger Steig has been good help to him,” Kevin Droke said.

Ricky Droke said Merritt is his favorite track.

“It’s banked and fast,” he said. “I like going fast.”

Droke said if he keeps his car on a straight-away, it will go 170 MPH. At Cherry, we can get up to 140,” he said.

Before the season ends, Droke wants to win a feature.“In a couple years, hopefully I’ll get up in the full sprints,” said Droke, presently in the minisprints.

Olds Construction is Droke’s main sponsor.

“He’s really doing a nice job for a rookie,” Steig said.