MILFORD, DE-After 26-years as Delaware's only Grand National numbered professional motorcycle racer Mark Miller, of Milford, made the switch from racing on two wheels to four this season. During his motorcycle-racing career Miller, sponsored by Blue Hen Auto Sales, Renco Chassis and Bell Helmets earned 14 track titles at Seaford Speedway, three national titles and posted over 200 feature wins. Miller, the first motorcycle racer to be nominated for the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame, began his 2003 season competing on motorcycles in the Pennsylvania region. Early in April Miller posted a 4th place finish during an American Motorcycle Association Regional short track feature at Pagota Speedway in Birdsbourough, PA. Miller, who finished ninth in the heat, grabbed the hole shot and led the first four laps of the eight-lap feature. He over shot turns one and two trying to escape pursuers and was freight trained. He didn't know it at the time, but it would be his last motorcycle race of the season.
Later that month Miller got a call from Billy and Snookie Vent, of Milton, asking if he wanted to drive a micro sprint owned by Walt Atwell, of Middletown, that was being vacated by Beau Wilkins who moved up to racing Big Block Modified cars at US 13 International Speedway in Delmar.
"They called me and offered me a chance to drive the car at Middleford Speedway and I decided to take the chance even though I'd never been in one," Miller recalled.
Miller debuted his sprint car career at Middleford Speedway near Seaford, De June 4th where he finished 14th out of 24 in the A main. "I was just glad to make the feature and get some seat time," Miller said of his first sprint car experience. "The only difference I saw between the motorcycle and the sprint car was corner speed," he added, "you don't have to shut off the sprint car in the corners like you do a motorcycle."
Miller continued competing at Middleford Speedway through October where his best feature finish was seventh. He and crew chief PJ Smith, of Dover, also traveled to Bridgeport Speedway in Bridgeport, NJ where he finished sixth in his heat race before being taken out during the feature by another driver while running in the top 10.
"I always wanted to try racing a sprint car and I hope to graduate to a full size sprint car in the next few years," Miller said.
To get ready for big time sprint car-racing Miller says he will have to stay in shape and work out over the winter. In March he will return to competition at Middleford and Bridgeport Speedways searching for a top 10 overall points finish at both tracks for his first full season of competition.
-Bruce C. Walls, guest writer