MIS: summertime fun for less costWritten by Nicholas Huenefeld | | email@example.com
It will be a fun, affordable and less stressful summer to experience racing at Michigan International Speedway (MIS), according to Roger Curtis, president of MIS.
“No sport compares to NASCAR,” Curtis said. “If you have an inkling of interest, you need to experience it live. It affects all your senses. Once you come out, you’ll be hooked because there is nothing like NASCAR live.”
Curtis compared a Sprint Cup Series weekend to seeing a professional baseball, football or hockey game.
“These are major league players [that come those weekends],” he said. “In that sense, we are very affordable.”
MIS is the first race track to offer kids 12 and under free admission on main event Sundays. On Fridays and Saturdays, kids can get in free for the whole facility. On Sunday, they are free in selected areas.
You can bring your own coolers and your own beverages, and they have lowered concession prices. In addition to that, parking is free.
Tickets cost $40 on Saturdays and Sundays, and $15 on Fridays.
“When you count free parking and free kid sections, you can get two adults and two kids in for $80,” Curtis said. “Also, you can come and camp while making a weekend staying in Irish Hills.”
Curtis took over as president in May 2006 and he said that he has seen “$50 million worth of changes.”
The biggest one is the elimination of the “decades-long parking issue” where spectators have spent up to five hours trying to exit the speedway.
“We were considered the perfect track until the checkered flag fell,” Curtis said. “It was our No. 1 priority. We had a lot of people that weren’t coming back [because of the traffic issues].”
Curtis teamed with the Michigan Department of Transportation and state police to allow people to exit with two, sometimes three lanes. Curtis estimates that it will cut the exiting time by three and a half hours.
In the past, the spectators would have to be down to one lane in all directions after one mile. Now, the speedway can take two to three lanes for at least 10 miles.
“It’s so important for fans on Sunday evening to get home,” he said. “I never dreamed we could go from five hours to an hour and a half. It just empties the parking lot so much faster.”
Aside from fixing the traffic issue, Curtis said that the facility has seen or will see improved shower and restroom facilities, a state-of-the-art LED screen and sound system, the addition of 25,000 seats for comfort and more than 600 informational and directional signs.
Once you have the affordability and the traffic stress eliminated, the fun begins with some big events this summer, Curtis said.
There are two big race weekends — one in June and one in August, as well as plenty of other events scattered throughout.
The first big weekend will include the ARCA RE/MAX Series Racing for Wildlife 200, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Michigan 200 and the LifeLock 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series the weekend of June 12 to 14.
Aug. 14 to 16 will include NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying the CARFAX 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series and the Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Aside from those events will be the Formula SAE on May 14 to 16. In the second annual event, which is free and open to the public, 130-plus colleges from all over the world will compete with handmade cars from scratch.
“This is their world competition,” Curtis said. “They look like little Formula One cars from 1960. It’s an unbelievably cool event, especially if you have a science and technology interest.”
During the event, the college students will fabric pieces of the cars together and then have safety courses, as well as market presentations in front of judges.
Other events this season at MIS will include a couple of car shows scattered throughout Spirit of America on Sept. 11, multiple days of school and the state boys’ and girls’ cross country meet the first weekend of November.
For those looking for more information, MIS has launched a new, interactive Web site that you can check out at MISSpeedway.com.
“There is a 3-D seating map,” Curtis said of the Web site. “You can see what the view is like from each seat. It’s a pretty neat tool and there is a part for fans that have never been to MIS.”