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Michigan track joins in criticizing Kentucky

An interesting read from Roger Curtis, president of Michigan International Speedway:

The fan experience should be Priority No. 1 By Roger Curtis, president, Michigan International Speedway

What should have been a shining moment for the sport of NASCAR and all the racetracks, especially those in the Midwest, has sadly, potentially, put all of us back several steps - maybe even years.

A sellout NASCAR race at Kentucky Speedway should have signaled the continuation of great things for race fans in the Midwest and for our sport.

Unfortunately Saturday’ night’s events became an exercise in blame and unpreparedness - and race fans, corporate partners, media and drivers were caught in the middle.

As a track promoter I am saddened and embarrassed about what happened this weekend. To think all the hard work that we’ve done here at Michigan International Speedway and other tracks have done could be so quickly erased by Saturday’s events. That speedway, having been open for racing since 2000, should have known the challenges it would face when it tripled in size.

Just to be clear: This isn’t about kicking a race track when it’s down. We all make mistakes and MIS has certainly had past issues with traffic.

And it isn’t about trying to sway a Kentucky Speedway ticketholder to come to Michigan - though we will be happy to treat them the way they should be treated should they want to give us a chance.

It’s about apologizing and doing what’s right when you are clearly in the wrong. It is about having your priorities right in the first place - on the fan experience.

That’s why I’m upset.

It is bad enough the racetrack went into the weekend knowing traffic was going to be worse than they had previously had with other series. But to think Bruton Smith made light of it with the media, and then pointed the finger at the State of Kentucky when posed with traffic questions is unfathomable.

We work tirelessly with our legislators and local officials to ensure traffic moves efficiently and safely. We collaborate with local communities, our state, public safety officials and first-responders to ensure an event at Michigan International Speedway is a true public-private partnership; and not a business threatening to hold its region hostage to meet our demands.

It appears the mentality at some other racetracks today is to see how much money they can make off a fan. Their line of thinking is to ban coolers, have fire sales on last-minute tickets, build, build, build without thinking, thinking, thinking, and blame others for their mistakes.

Don’t get me wrong: We are not perfect. But we listen to our fans, we recognize our shortcomings and we try to overcome them so race fans don’t feel the burden. Most importantly, we learn from them so those mistakes don’t happen again.

Michigan International Speedway is sincere when we say we want to do things for our fans to grow our business. That’s why we lowered ticket prices for all our loyal fans, why we launched a Fan Appreciation program, why we have a Fan Advisory Board, why we allow larger coolers in the grandstands, why parking is always free and plenty, why we have invested more than $60 million in our facility the past four years, why we continue to work with the State of Michigan, the Michigan Department of Transportation, the Michigan State Police to manage race-day traffic and why we have real race fans give a Fans’ Trophy to the winning driver in Victory Lane.

We try really hard to educate our fans on traffic and our facility, have a system of feedback and information sharing with all our guests, and we listen to our guests about changes we need to make to grow our business. Fans are our bottom line.

On behalf of the MIS staff, I apologize to all the race fans whose expectations were not met this weekend, but also to those who read all the stories and were taken back by the treatment other people received.

That is not how we do business at our racetrack - and it’s certainly not indicative of how every track operates. I hope fans recognize this and realize the vast majority in this great sport (not just tracks, but NASCAR officials, drivers and owners, as well) are working hard for the fans and do have their priorities right.

We do not take our guests for granted and we pledge to do everything we can every day to make your experience at MIS the best it can be.

We won’t undercut our loyal customers with a knee-jerk ticket offer to make up for what happened on Saturday. But we will match what our loyal customers received by offering any race fan who has not had their expectations met at any racetrack with our lowest ticket price of the season for seats in Turns 1 and 3. Send us your race ticket and you can purchase a reserved ticket for $45 for the August 21 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Permalink | Comments (16) | Post your comment | Categories: Auto racing

Comments

By Smith

July 12, 2011 4:22 AM | Link to this

Was this unexpected? We are talking about Kentucky here.

By Kentucky...KY

July 12, 2011 6:19 AM | Link to this

It seems KY needs a little KY to slip in and out of there a little more easliy……

By jay

July 12, 2011 6:39 AM | Link to this

My neighbor parked his Camper 50 miles from the Speedway, race day took him 5hrs to go 50 miles.No Coolers allowed(8.00beersis why) )Sad day for NASCAR.

By Speed Hemi

July 12, 2011 6:55 AM | Link to this

Boycott the track.

By seeya

July 12, 2011 7:35 AM | Link to this

Screw Michigan…what a turd…”Just to be clear: This isnít about kicking a race track when itís down.” Then kick away…and bait people with KY tickets to buy Michigan tickets…bite me Roger Curtis

By What About the Race Itself

July 12, 2011 8:32 AM | Link to this

Have heard a lot of talk about traffic…but no talk about how boring the race actually was. These small bowl tracks just make for a lot of single-file racing. No thanks.

By Mel

July 12, 2011 9:10 AM | Link to this

Here, Here to seeya. I was there and didn’t have any problems at all. Been there before and knew what to expect. Great time, race and will deffenitley return. You can add me to the bite list, CURTIS

By Chance2

July 12, 2011 9:33 AM | Link to this

@ What About the Race itself - ALL of the NASCAR races are like that anymore. I just returned from Daytona and the cars were able to get three-wide all of what…three times. It was essentially a typical boring race. If you want an entity to blame for the bad racing, you can blame the France family, the “Car of Tomorrow” and the rules that are changed for each race. NASCAR has lost many fans due to bad racing - not just the one at Kentucky.

By Been There

July 12, 2011 11:20 AM | Link to this

They reported today all the lots filled up, no where to park the remaining traffic trying to get in, Shame on Bruton Smith, the blame is his alone in this fiasco.

By Rum Runner

July 12, 2011 11:21 AM | Link to this

We do better than that in the back roads of North Carolina and Tennessee. Y’all need to come see us drive. And free parking. Moonshine is extra, of course.

By dagwood

July 12, 2011 12:09 PM | Link to this

The big problem was the people that went to the track to tailgate and party in the parking lot. They did not go to the race or had tickets for the race. They were the ones taking up all the parking spaces…you don’t hear about that in the news.

By xxx

July 12, 2011 12:42 PM | Link to this

Bottom line is that the KY Speedway has had 10 years to get ready for this…and they didn’t. I’ve been to many a NASCAR race, including Sat. and it was by far the most poorly handled race I’ve ever been to. Won’t go back.

By Debbie

July 12, 2011 2:15 PM | Link to this

been to kentucky many times everyone should know you should get there early heard you had construction also what do you expect. you all wanted a big race there you got it. as far as coolers no they shouldnt be allowed raceing and beer dont mix you take your own you drink more. i think that three races in one weekend is to much to start out with maybe they learned from this.

By Debbie

July 12, 2011 2:16 PM | Link to this

been to kentucky many times everyone should know you should get there early heard you had construction also what do you expect. you all wanted a big race there you got it. as far as coolers no they shouldnt be allowed raceing and beer dont mix you take your own you drink more. i think that three races in one weekend is to much to start out with maybe they learned from this.

By Debbie

July 12, 2011 2:16 PM | Link to this

been to kentucky many times everyone should know you should get there early heard you had construction also what do you expect. you all wanted a big race there you got it. as far as coolers no they shouldnt be allowed raceing and beer dont mix you take your own you drink more. i think that three races in one weekend is to much to start out with maybe they learned from this.

By Fireball

July 20, 2011 10:18 AM | Link to this

Sorry Mr. Curtis, I do not agree on your traffic flow at MIS. Last time I was there it took longer to get out of your parking lot than it did to run the race. How about a chopper next time???

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