Terry Senneker had a weekend that was filled with emotion. On Saturday night, he won the Icebreaker at Berlin Raceway in Marne, Michigan. But as he crossed the finish line, he had one thing on his mind, Tyler Roarhig.
“All day long I was thinking about Tyler, it was a somber feeling as we headed to the track,” Senneker said. “Everybody was concerned about Tyler and how he was doing. I wanted to make sure I got the win for him.”
Like many, when word came down about Roahrig’s horrific wreck while practicing at Anderson Speedway in Anderson, Indiana, Senneker was concerned about his status.
“Bobby Blount called me first and then I called Brian Schneider to find out more, then finally got a hold of JR (Roahrig, Tyler's father),” Senneker recalled. “He was on all of our minds at Berlin throughout the day.”
At the track, Senneker got behind the wheel and got ready for the 50-lap event.
“We practiced the week before and that went well. When we got to the track, we had limited practice time but were able to make a few adjustments,” Senneker said. “We just missed getting fast time, but settled for second. In the heat, we started tenth and finished seventh.”
Senneker would start seventh in the Icebreaker, but didn’t last long in that position.
“We ran hard early and by lap three or four we were up to second and we settled down there for the time being behind Adam Terry. We took the lead after a double file restart, around the halfway mark. It felt good to get the win.”
Senneker would take the win by 1.2-seconds over Terry with Brian Bergakker in third.
Senneker Performance cars, ones built, prepared or worked on or with components from Senneker himself, finished first, second, third, fifth and sixth.
On Sunday, Senneker was able to get on the phone and talked to Tyler Roahrig.
“It felt good to hear his voice,” Senneker said. “First thing he said to me was congratulations on the win and that meant a lot.
“We talked a lot about racing and he is eager to back behind the wheel, but he pretty much knows that it probably won’t be this year. His mind is on racing and to get back behind the wheel when he is able. But, he was in good spirits given what he went through a couple days earlier. I have never been hurt, but we all have had some adversity given a wreck or mechanical issue, to where we fix and come back at the next event. Tyler will have a longer recovery time but he will come back stronger and more motivated.”
Senneker, who owns Senneker Performance and built Roahrig’s car, said that he and JR Roarhig would look over the car together and see what they can learn from the accident.
“Being a chassis builder, your first concern is to learn what you can from an impact like what he had at Anderson,” Senneker said. “If we learn anything, we will definitely share it with other chassis builders. I think his hit was so unique that no chassis out there could have withstood the hit he had with his car.”
With his business staying busy, he is finding time to get his Outlaw Late Model ready for his next Berlin Raceway event on Saturday, May 10th.
“We plan on racing there all season as long as things go well for us,” Senneker said. “We also plan to hit some of the big Outlaw events as well. We will be going to Baer Field Speedway for a couple big events along with the Kalamazoo Klash and Glass City 200.”
He isn’t planning on running for a championship, but will take each race at a time and see where ends up at the end of the season.
Another thing that Senneker is encouraged about is the improvements that Berlin Raceway is making this year including new grandstands and suites.
“They are on the right track with the improvements and that is great. They have the resources to make the changes and for the long term, they are going in the right direction,” Senneker said. “I think if other tracks had the resources to make the improvements, they would. Improvements like this show that they really care about the fans and the competitors. It shows everyone that they are planning on being here for a long time.
“Plus, they are starting earlier and running a fast efficient program. Last Saturday, we started at 6:30pm and were done by 9:30pm, which is great for a family. There wasn’t much down and that is great.”