WRIGHT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Out of the thousands of fans who pack the Berlin Raceway over the summer, Stephen Zimmerman is always the earliest to arrive, getting to the track when the gates open.
“If it’s Saturday, I’m at the track,” Zimmerman said.
Most fans pick their seats to get the best views of the track, but Zimmerman chooses a top-row seat so he can get to work.
“It’s kind of like the guys at baseball fields, keeping scores for the teams,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman immortalizes every driver, every win and every lap time in his notebook. He often brings a clipboard, notebook and stopwatch to document everything going on at Berlin.
“I don’t think I’ve missed many (races),” Zimmerman said with a smile.
That’s something he can prove: In a self-built cabinet in Zimmerman’s hallway lives a near perfect history of Berlin Raceway, with notes dating back to the 1970s. Fifty years of pictures and finals have been unofficially kept from the stands.
These records weren’t kept alone. As long as he’s been to races, he’s had his wife, Claudia Zimmerman, on his side.
“Our first date was at the racetrack,” Claudia Zimmerman said. “We got married on a Friday night, and there were races on Saturday, so you know we had to be there.”
The two tether their headsets on race day, so they can talk over the cars.
Claudia Zimmerman originally kept records.
“You didn’t always have a scoreboard, so you’d have to really listen and pay attention,” she said. “And he was unhappy if I didn’t get all the information down, so he took over.”
The couple watched their kids grow up from the top row.
“I kept the kids happy while he was there, because you have to get there when the gates open,” Claudia Zimmerman said. “You have to! And you have to be there for all the practice time.”
“If there’s guys on the track, I want to be there,” Stephen Zimmerman agreed.
For Stephen Zimmerman, his notes are not just a catalogue of who won or who lost. The records help him remember the place where he’s made so many memories.
“Odds and ends, you go through the archives and — bang! I remember,” Stephen Zimmerman said.
“A lot of years, a lot of fun,” Claudia Zimmerman said. “I’ve enjoyed it.”
The Zimmermans aren’t going anywhere: Their names are on their seats.
So if you’re in the mood for a quick history lesson, climb the steps and say hello — just do it between races.