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Inducted into the Michigan Motor Sports Hall of Fame in 2012
Dennis Berry is a household name in short track racing’s history books when you think of the 1980s and 1990s in the Midwest. The Clio, Michigan legend left his mark and legacy on short tracks. His career began in 1974 at 17 years old in the Flying Stocks division at Auto City Speedway. In 1975, he won the tracks Most Improved Driver award and until 1978, he stayed in that division learning the ins-and-outs of short track racing. In 1979, Berry moved up to the Sportsman division and in 1980, teamed up with Mel Householder and raced in the Sportsman division until the 1982 season.
In 1983, not only did Berry make the big move to Super Late Models teaming up with Bud and Marty Varner, he also joined the Michigan Speedway Promoters Association (MSPA) touring series and was rewarded with a second place overall finish, while handily winning the 1983 Rookie of the Year title that season. Also in 1983, he captured the Rookie of the Year title in the Super Late Models division at Dixie Motor Speedway while finishing third overall in the track title chase.
Between 1983-1985 Berry raced for the Varner’s and in 1984; he made his first venture to the Sunshine State as he competed in Florida Speedweeks at Volusia County Speedway in Barberville, FL. In 1986, Berry teamed up with Kenny Guiles in the familiar “$” Dollar Sign car and for the next two seasons Berry enjoyed success.
It was in 1988 that Berry got one of the biggest breaks of his career thanks to Randy Hosler. Together in the familiar Blue and Orange #70, they raced Super Late Models while also making the move into regional traveling series’ such as the ARTGO Challenge Series and the ICEMAN Super Car Series. It was in the ICEMAN Series where Berry really made his mark. During his time with Hosler, the duo combined to win the 1988 race at Sandusky Speedway in Ohio. Despite running a limited schedule back at his home track of Auto City, due to his traveling commitments with the ICEMAN series, Berry was the recipient of the prestigious Chuck McClung Hard-Charger Award in 1989.
In his time with the ICEMAN Series, Berry established himself as one of the most successful drivers in Series history! He and Hosler parted ways at the end of the 1991 season and Berry joined forces with Mike Schwartz in 1992 and continued racing the ICEMAN Series as well as Outlaw Super Late Models. The 1992 season started off successfully as Berry finished second in Florida Speedweeks Points at New Smyrna Speedway after racking up three top five finishes. Throughout the year, success was still there for Berry no matter what car he drove or for whom he drove for.
In 1993, Berry teamed up with Butch Miller for the Vermillion, OH based Liberty Racing Team and finally after several years of trying, Berry got his first ever Championship, a co-title shared with teammate Miller as they were both crowned the 1993 ICEMAN Super Car Series co-champions. Berry still wasn’t satisfied though since he had to share the title, so a year later in 1994, Berry moved on to drive the Port City Racing house car for Harley Boeve and had perhaps the most dominating season in ICEMAN Series history en route to his second straight series championship and finally, after several years of trying, his first career outright Championship to call his own!
Berry was reunited with Schwartz for the 1995 season and the season started with a win during Florida Speedweeks at New Smyrna. The season was successful from start to finish and Berry was again rewarded with his third consecutive ICEMAN Series Championship. He also made appearances in the Hooters Cup Super Late Model Series and in the fall event in October at Toledo, Berry showed the southern travelers how to get around the wicked fast ˝ mile oval as he beat what many observers feel, was one of the most talent-laden fields in the tracks long storied history. Berry also made select appearances in the ASA National Tour for Randy Ellen and later for Dick Hoffman.
At the end of the 1995 season, a decision was made and it was time to move on from the ICEMAN Series. So to start the 1996 season, Berry joined forces with Don Fanitti Motorsports based in Wisconsin and made a run at the 1996 ASA National Tours’ Rookie of the Year title. In the very first race for the Fanitti / Berry combination, Berry qualified an impressive third out of 67 cars in the 1996 season opener at USA International Speedway in Lakeland, FL. In 1997, Berry reunited one more time with Schwartz returning to Outlaw Super Late Model competition and captured the 1997 AC-Delco Challenge Series Championship at Auto City.
In 1998, Berry fulfilled a lifelong dream of racing at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, MI making his debut in the ARCA Super Car Series and he made the most of his appearance by qualifying fourth and finishing an impressive sixth. From 1998-2001, Berry continued racing and continued winning in Super Late Models competition for Sam O’Connor as he won the Mudslinger 100 and the Firecracker 100 in 1999 both at Auto City as well as a Glass City 200 qualifier race at Toledo. From 2002-2004 he rejoined Port City Racing and continued to prove that he was one of the top competitors.
In 2005, Berry retired from racing after a stellar career. Although Track Championships weren’t the number one priority, he left his mark in other ways with three consecutive ICEMAN Super Car Series Championships and his legacy as the most successful driver ever in the history of that series. Over his 30-year career, Berry won over 150 career features while recording over 200 top five finishes and over 300 top 10 finishes in feature races. He also holds several track records all over the Midwest that still stand today.
Nowadays, Berry is the car owner, crew chief, and father to 19-year-old son, Trevor Berry who will begin his third season of racing and first season behind the wheel of a Non-Winged Sprint Car. Trevor will also make select appearances in his open-wheeled Modified with the Top Speed Modifieds Tour as well as competing in weekly events throughout Michigan.
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