By JOHN OSTERMANN
For The Daily News
ESCANABA - Upper Peninsula International Raceway's NASCAR weekend May 16-17 is shaping up to be one of the biggest stock car races in Upper Michigan history.
NASCAR veteran Ken Schrader of Mooresville, N.C., will be racing Saturday against a field of modifieds that is getting stronger by the day.
The list includes Oconto Falls' Eric Arneson, one of the top chassis men in the state of Wisconsin who has also won multiple championships over the years; rookie standouts Jerry Duggan of Mishicot and Austin Cayer of Gladstone, and Derek Kaye of Green Bay.
Eugene Gregorich of Kewaunee, who has recently won several asphalt late model championships, will return to the dirt to throw his hat in the ring to win the $500 first place prize. Brandon Tegan of Mishicot, 2012 rookie of the year title in the mod division at 141 Speedway in Francis Creek, has also been added to the list.
Jason Holmes, a top runner at Wilmot Speedway, will make the six-hour drive and is expected to be a contender in the big race.
Some other local drivers have also committed including John Bourdeau of Escanaba. To see an updated list go to www.upirtrack.com.
The UPIR has finalized the remaining 2014 schedule. UPIR has scheduled 12 nights of racing at the Upper Peninsula State Fairgrounds. They will be running four divisions on Saturday nights throughout the summer with the exception of July.
In July, the fairgrounds will be used for other shows and conventions.
June highlights include the Kim Parsons Memorial race where all race winners will receive a trophy in honor of the young dedicated fan. The Street Stock Challenge will feature the street stocks running for an enhanced purse sponsored by Auto Value Parts Stores. The Art Richer Memorial Race will feature the Vintage Modifieds and include a formal introduction of all the local racing legends from the Escanaba area who raced during the 1960's and 70's.
August headliners include fan appreciation night where fans can meet the drivers and see the cars up close for a one-hour autograph session.
"Race like a Girl" features a special appearance by one of the top female drivers in the Midwest. Reagan May of De Pere, featured in Circle Track magazine in February, will be driving a modified and joining micro sprint rookie Rhianna Carne, GLIR champion Kristy Kirstner, micro sprint standouts Karen Degnan, Stephanie Wolf and Justina Liss, Jodi Borchert racing a sport 4 along with Hattie Bourdeau, Kim Wycoff and rookie Maggie Martin of Bark River as well as several other female racers.
The U.P. State Fair is going to have two days of motorsports entertainment with UPIR running on Saturday and a thrill show running on Sunday.
The first "Drive to a Cure" race will be held to benefit breast cancer patients with the help of OSF St. Francis Hospital and U.P. Bras that Fit.
September wraps up the 2014 season with back-to-back nights of racing with the fourth annual Coca Cola Yooper Fall Classic.
Upper Peninsula International Racing Association has announced that it will continue its family friendly $5 adult ticket prices. For more information go to www.upirtrack.com.
For lodging information go to www.visitescanaba.com.