Cant Miss At MIS

Michigan International Speedway has the distinction of being a favorite of both competitors and fans alike. The experience it brings each is one to remember year after year.

Situated in the Irish Hills at Brooklyn, Michigan, on 1,400-plus acres, the speedway was built by land developer Larry LaPatin, with groundbreaking taking place in 1967, and opening late 1968 under the American Raceways banner. The track layout was designed by Charles Moneypenny, who also designed Daytona International Speedway. American Raceways came to operate four tracks: Michigan, Atlanta, Riverside, and Texas International Speedway.

Even Michigan’s 1968 ribbon-cutting was spectacular and left behind a vision never to be forgotten by those in attendance. Betty Skelton flew her biplane on a low pass over the track, cutting the ceremonial ribbon with her landing gear!

The first race at the 2-mile trioval in 1968 was a USAC Indy car event won by Ronnie Bucknum. The first NASCAR Cup Series event was the Motor State 500 on June 15, 1969, won by Cale Yarborough. In his coverage of the race, noted motorsports journalist Benny Phillips had this to say:

“If they gave an Oscar for stock car racing’s most thrilling event, then the Motor State 500 would take the lead by leaps and bounds.”

“This is by far the best track we race on,” said Yarborough after his 1969 victory in the Wood Bros. Mercury. “It’s the favorite of all the drivers.”

Three-abreast racing immediately became a pleasing part of Michigan’s race-watching appeal.

In 1978, Yarborough was recognized again at Michigan, after posting the first triumph for Oldsmobile in the Gabriel 400 there, in a performance which rivaled the manufacturer’s heydays of the 1950s. Yarborough is still credited with having the most top five finishes at the track, with 21.

David Pearson holds the record for most wins at Michigan with nine, and the most pole positions at 10. Bill Elliott is the only driver to have won four consecutive races at Michigan, capturing both events in the years 1985 and 1986.

The carburetor restrictor plate was first used at Michigan on August 16, 1970, as speeds on the NASCAR circuit were rising to higher and higher levels. Once implemented, top speeds at the track lowered some five mph.

Roger Penske had purchased Michigan in June 1973, and International Speedway Corporation (ISC) took ownership in July 1999.

MIS continues to host the largest, single-day paid-admission sporting event in the state.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2009

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