Jamie McMurray and Mike Mittler
Photo Credit: @jamiemcmurray

Mike Mittler, longtime Gander Outdoors Truck Series team owner, dies

Mike Mittler, a longtime team owner in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series, has died. He was 67.

Mittler’s passing was confirmed by multiple sources. His team indicated last fall that Mittler had been fighting cancer.

Mittler’s MB Motorsports team was heralded as a launching pad for many aspiring drivers, some of whom reached the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski, Jamie McMurray and Regan Smith were among the 49 drivers on MB Motorsports’ all-time roster under Mittler’s watch. Many paid tribute to their former team owner Friday evening as the news spread of his passing.

Mittler is credited with 301 career starts as a team owner in the Gander Trucks circuit, dating back to the inaugural season in 1995. His closest brush with victory came with dirt-track ace Bobby Pierce, who won two straight pole positions at Eldora Speedway and finished second driving Mittler’s No. 63 in the midsummer event on dirt in 2015.

That 2015 race at Eldora was Pierce’s first career Gander Trucks start. He chased dirt ace Christopher Bell — then a prospect, now a burgeoning superstar — all over Eldora’s half-mile dirt oval before bringing his battered truck across the line second.

“I thought if it stayed green, we’d have every opportunity to work (Bell) and get by him, but it just didn’t go that way, “Mittler told NASCAR.com after that race. “I just thought, ‘Wow, what a phenomenal opportunity after 20 years, to be in position to finally have an opportunity to win a race.’

“That’s why you’re in this sport, to be in contention to win. It wasn’t a fluke. We were there all day. It was no fluke at all. The kid’s the real deal. He said this is a dream come true for him, and it is for me, too.”

In addition to his career as a team owner, Mittler was a prominent supplier of racing equipment through his Mittler Brothers company.

Among those chiming in with memories and well-wishes Friday:

Contributing: Zack Albert, Brad Norman