Grassroots Racing in Northern Michigan: Michigan International Speedway
BROOKLYN – Our Grassroots Racing in Northern Michigan series concludes its summer tour at Michigan International Speedway.
Located in the village of Brooklyn in the Irish Hills, the two-mile facility opened in Oct. 1968 and currently hosts the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Xfinity Series, Camping World Truck Series and ARCA Racing Series.
The Sprint Cup Series and Truck Series make stops at MIS this weekend, with the Pure Michigan 400 set for Sunday at 2 p.m.
With upwards of 100,000 fans attending two racing weekends (June, August) a summer, preparation is a year-round operation.
“It’s like building a city in a week. Everybody has to kind of understand what everyone is doing and it’s kind of an amazing puzzle that gets put together over the week,” said Craig Hatch, MIS Vice President of Facilities and Operations. “We’ve always compared it to a wedding. Anybody who has to plan their own wedding, you don’t think about all the little details. You take that and expand it so much bigger when you’re putting on an event.”
While one group ensures the facility is prepared to host fans, another is responsible for the business impact.
“We have certainly a great reach and people understand the impact of NASCAR, so we get a lot of people that reach out to us,” said Josh Burgett, Vice President of Business Development and Partnerships. “We’re reaching out to Michigan, regional and national businesses to try to partner and do business with us and host events here.
Every time we get to interact with race fans, my love and passion for this sport and facility continue to grow, because we just have the most genuine, down-to-earth race fans.”
On Thursday, two of those down-to-earth fans that Burgett speaks of were married at victory lane.
William and Shelley Kelley became the first couple to have their ceremony officiated by a professional driver at MIS, as Truck Series driver Spencer Gallagher served as officiant.
“That was something different,” Gallagher said. “I’m sure it’s every fan’s dream or some fan’s dream to get married by their favorite driver. I’m so glad…that the people at Michigan International Speedway reached out to me and helped me be the guy to make that dream come true.”