Auto racing has brought thrills to the Irish Hills for fifty years and created memories for generations of motorsports fans.
Oct. 13, 1968 – In the Michigan Inaugeral 250 at MIS, fans watched Ronnie Buckman, a 32-year-old surveyor from Southern California make his way from the eighth starting spot to the checkered flag in an unnamed 250-mile Indy car event. Buckman’s average speed was 163.043 mph, and he collected $20,088 in winnings. It was his only major open-wheel racing victory.
June 15, 1969 – The first NASCAR race at MIS — called the Motor State 500 — set the stage for years of door-banging, paint-swapping, neck-and-neck finishes. Cale Yarborough and LeeRoy Yarbrough battled for most of the final 150 laps in the Motor State 500. On the last lap, they touched twice entering Turn 1, with Yarbrough brushing the outside wall. After drafting down the back stretch, Yarbrough spun coming out of the final turn and crashed just 300 yards from the finish line, giving Yarborough the victory.
Celebrating Cale Yarborough’s Victory in the 1st NASCAR sponsored reace on June 15, 1969.
June 10, 2018 : Monster Energy NASCAR CUP SERIES Firekeepers Casino 400 will be held.
History from Wikipedia:
Groundbreaking took place on September 28, 1967. Over 2.5 million cubic yards (1.9×106 m3) of dirt were moved to form the D-shaped oval. The track opened in 1968 with a total capacity of 25,000 seats. The track was originally built and owned by Lawrence H. LoPatin, a Detroit-area land developer who built the speedway at an estimated cost of $4–6 million. Financing was arranged by Thomas W Itin. Its first race took place on Sunday, October 13, 1968, with the running of the USAC 250 mile Championship Car Race won by Ronnie Bucknum.
In 1972, Roger Penske purchased the speedway for an estimated $2 million. During Penske’s ownership the track was upgraded several times from the original capacity to 125,000 seating capacity. From 1996 to 2000, the track was referred to as Michigan Speedway. This was to keep consistency with other tracks owned by Roger Penske’s Motorsports International before its merger with ISC.
In 1999, the speedway was purchased by International Speedway Corporation (ISC) and in 2000 the track was renamed to its original name of Michigan International Speedway. In 2000 10,800 seats were added via a turn 3 grandstand bringing the speedway to its current capacity. In 2004-2005 the largest renovation project in the history of the facility was ready for race fans when it opened its doors for the race weekend. The AAA Motorsports Fan Plaza—a reconfiguration of over 26 acres (110,000 m2) behind the main grandstand—provided race fans a new and improved area to relax and enjoy sponsor displays, merchandise, and concessions during breaks of on-track activity. A new, three-story viewing tower housing the Champions Club presented by AAA and 16 new corporate suites also awaited VIP guests, while a state-of-the-art press box and an expansive race operations facility high above the two-mile (3.2 km) oval welcomed the media and race officials. Michigan was repaved prior to the 2012 season. This marks the first time since 1995 that the oval was resurfaced, along with 1967, 1975, and 1986. Also new for 2012 was the addition of a new 20-space trackside luxury campsite to be known as APEX. Situated in turn 3, each site will offer a 20-by-55-foot (6.1 by 16.8 m) area, with water and electric hookups, a picnic table and grill. Besides front-row seating for the racing action, the APEX area will offer personalized service to its guests, including a concierge to address any of their needs during race weekend. To accommodate these new campsites, the remaining silver grandstands in turns 3 and 4 were removed.
Currently scheduled races;
- ARCA Racing Series: Corrigan Oil 200
- NASCAR Xfinity Series: Irish Hills 250
- Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series: FireKeepers Casino 400 (June 2, 2018)
- NASCAR Camping World Truck Series: Careers for Veterans 200
- Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series: Consumers Energy 400
In addition to motor racing, the venue hosts a number of events including the Michigan High School Athletic Association cross country finals for the Lower Peninsula and the annual Make-A-Wish Bicycle Tour. The track also hosts concerts in conjunction with its race weekends. Driving schools are held throughout the year. The Formula SAE competition is now held at MIS, after previously being held in the parking lot of the Pontiac Silverdome. Since 2010, it has hosted the Michigan Wine and Beer Festival, and since 2013, the venue has hosted the country music festival Faster Horses.
LeAnne Smith, “Peek Through Time: 10 Memorable Michigan International Speedway Races“, MLive, June 10, 2015.
George Sipple, “NASCAR, Michigan International Speedway celebrate 50 years of racing“, Detroit Free Press, June 9, 2018.