Blog Entry

Michigan track president piles on Kentucky mess

Posted on: July 11, 2011 4:26 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 4:28 pm
Posted by Brian De Los Santos

Roger Curtis, Michigan International Speedway, issued a relase Monday afternoon in regards to the traffic debacle for the inaugural Sprint Cup race. He pulled no punches and was quite harsh toward Kentucky Speedway officials.

Here's his message in its entirety:

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.

# # #

Roger Curtis, the president of Michigan International Speedway, is a 20-year veteran of motorsports administration. Before his time at MIS, Curtis was at Auto Club Speedway in California, Richmond International Raceway and Watkins Glen International in New York.  

Involved in motorsports since 1991, he has owned his own motorsports marketing and communications company and has worked with Bobby Allison Motorsports, Bill Davis Racing and NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Bobby Dotter.

He’s a NASCAR fan and counts family time, the outdoors, music and cooking among his many interests.

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Since: Jul 6, 2011
Posted on: July 13, 2011 2:07 pm

Michigan track president piles on Kentucky mess

Hes right on the money... Greed. But just its Capitalism. How much money can we make. doesnt matter who is hurt, inconvienenced. They are off on their Helicopter.. to their Jets. Showing a profit. Their shareholders Happy. The economy more beat up. Bet they vote Repubilcan party. Take from the bottom92% that dont make more then 50-60 k a yr. Rape them on food prices... parking...But dont take a dime from the billionaires that wouldnt miss a penny.. besides in their egotisticle mind.

Since: Nov 20, 2006
Posted on: July 12, 2011 10:04 pm

Michigan track president piles on Kentucky mess

Kentucky Speedway is a wonderful facility, however it has always been beset with traffic issues since it opened.  I live in Cincy just 30 miles away and I knew better than attempt to go to the NASCAR race.  Hell, it takes 90 minutes to get out of the facility when the Indy Cars run with about 1/3 of the crowd as NASCAR.  This traffic disaster was easily forseable for anyone who has visited Kentucky Speedway in the past.  Unless they add more interstate lanes to I71, fans will abandon the race, just like the Indianpolis fans abandoned the Brickyard 400 after the tire fiasco two years ago.  Attendance at the Brickyard last year was around 120,000, down from 280,000 fans 4 years ago.  Fans just don't have the tolerance to pay good money for a crap product.

Since: Jul 21, 2010
Posted on: July 12, 2011 7:43 pm

Michigan track president piles on Kentucky mess

On the cooler issue it is a state law in Kentucky that no coolers are allowed inside this was not an SMI rule.

Since: May 29, 2008
Posted on: July 12, 2011 3:08 pm

Michigan track president piles on Kentucky mess

    Hell yeah brother!!!  You hit the nail on the head.  If Mr. Curtis was a true fan's fan, then why not help KY speedway out rather than bash the crap out of them only to turn around and say "hey, since they sucked, why don't you come check out my fancy little track".  The fact that he has the stones to make a comment like "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", only in the same breath to make the next comment "though we will be happy to treat them the way they should be treated should they want to give us a chance", Mr. Curtiss, I got a bit of a news flash fer ya.  Just because this sport was founded by rednecks running moonshine in the foot hills of the Smokie Mts., doesn't mean were all a bunch of ignorant hillbilly fans.  This entire article is a disgusting slur campaign similiar to what politicians do to eachother come election time.  You purposely bashed and completedly tore apart another track in hopes of making yourself look better and selling more tickets.  Of course you will jump on the opportunity to raise your stock at the expense of anothers misfortunes by lowering ticket prices and saying it's what should be done because your a true fan of the fans.  The money people save on ticket prices will be easily spent on overpriced beer, hot dogs and merchandise inside the track.  Probably more so once the extra beer losens the purse strings a little.  I don't personally have a problem with your tactics, it's the American way after all, it's the insulting of our intelligence by trying to convince us that your not just out to get your own wallet just a little bit fatter by degrading your competition.  Mr. Curtis, your track is a crap hole.  It is no different than any other of the cookie cutter tracks that have spawned like roaches to infest the once great sport of racing.  Give Kentucky another couple of years and they will run just as smooth as other pasty a$$, boring, follow the leader type tracks that you operate.  The truly great tracks, ones like, Darlington, Bristol, Richmond, Daytona and North Wilkesboro have gone extinct or are becoming dinosaurs.  Those are tracks, Mr. Curtis, that truly give or gave the fan what they deserve.  I would rather watch the local 4 cylinders at my nearest dirt bull ring run, than bore myself to death watching a farse of a spectacle at your faciltiy sir.      

Since: Jun 26, 2009
Posted on: July 12, 2011 11:49 am

Michigan track president piles on Kentucky mess

I grew up in the Brooklyn, Irish Hills area,  right on Lake Columbia. I have attended many races at MIS and even sold programs many times for school events and such. Brooklyn is a very small town, maybe 3 or 4 thousand ppl. The wat they shut down M-50 and US-12 to get traffic out in a timely and safe matter is amazing. They have both highways going one way out to the nearest interstated which are 127 and 94. Kentucky should have been more prepared, but at the same time this is the first race they have had of this magnitude. The fact is that they dropped the ball, and they should give back more to satisfy the fans that had to deal with getting in and out of the track. I think they will be more prepared the next time around, and just the fact that they got this many fans to go to a race should be reason enough to HELP them instead of bash them and give them another chance next season.


Since: Aug 28, 2006
Posted on: July 12, 2011 3:48 am

Michigan track president piles on Kentucky mess

  I like it..... I think he's right on track. About time someone, anyone stepped up and offered anything to a fan. Most tracks are all about the money.... and could really care less about the fans- they talk a good game and do not deliver come race day.

Since: Jul 11, 2011
Posted on: July 11, 2011 10:07 pm

Michigan has taken care of thier fans!!!

I have attended races at MIS for 11 years now. Let me assure Roger Curtis does care about the fans. MIS cares about thier fans.  The reason that there are not people at the races in Michigan is due to the economy in the area surrounding the track. In the 11 years my experience at the track has only gotten better. Each year you see the improvements that are being made to the race track to make your experience as a fan better. I applaud Roger for coming forward with this statement. When you spend a large sum of money for a ticket you expect that you will be able to attend the event and have a parking space. I have spent 6 hours in the parking lot at MIS before trying to get home but that happened once. Ever since then they worked with the state of Michigan to improve the traffic patterns. Since then it takes less than an hour to get out after the races. Kentucky if you fail to plan you plan to fail which obviously was the case.

Since: Sep 13, 2006
Posted on: July 11, 2011 10:04 pm

Michigan track president piles on Kentucky mess

Maybe Mr Curtis is jealous that Ky Speedway pulled in close to 120,000 fans for it's race and Michigan can barely draw half that? People from all over the midwest showed up at Ky on saturday night dwarfing attendance at some of the other area nascar tracks. This was their first year...give them a 2nd chance and they will get it right.

Since: May 25, 2007
Posted on: July 11, 2011 7:23 pm

Michigan track president piles on Kentucky mess

Not to standup for Jerry Jones or the Cowboys, but that fiasco lies at the feet of the NFL. In all reality the NFL or MLB, NBA and NHL run their respective championship events. The individual or hosting teams have very little influence on sales, marketing or planning for these events. I do believe that the teams or organizations that run the stadiums are responsible for the logistics of traffic and such, but even security is overseen by the leagues.

Since: May 24, 2009
Posted on: July 11, 2011 6:42 pm

Michigan track president piles on Kentucky mess

The Super Bowl uproar happened because The Cowboys sold tickets to the game and then allowed fans to arrive in Dallas only to inform them that the seats were not to be had. The incident in KY occurred because an overwhelming number of cars arrived in too short a period of time. Not that it makes the situation better, but the track officials did not sell tickets to seats that were never installed.  I am sure that Ky Speedway will do their best to make customers happy, they are not in business to do otherwise. 

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