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Official Review by Scott Bultman, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Michigan International Speedway (MIS) opened in 1968 to great fanfare. Racing fans in the Great Lakes region finally had a NASCAR track to call their own. This two-mile track is known to be among the fastest in NASCAR due to a wide track and fast corners. Fans are often treated to three and four wide racing in the first couple of laps after a restart.
MIS hosts two NASCAR Sprint Cup races annually as well as a Xfinity Series, a Camping World truck race, and an ARCA series race. The races are held in June and August and capacity at the track is 71,000.
At one time, the track held nearly 130,000 seats. However, MIS has followed the trend of less seats for a better look on television. NASCAR boasts solid television ratings, but fewer fans are attending races these days. MIS is trying to reverse that trend with free parking, concerts, and other things to keep fans interested.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Soft-sided coolers (10x10x12) and backpacks are allowed into the track, which is a big help in saving fans' money. This helps with water or any snacks that you may want to bring into the race. Beer can be brought in as long as it is in plastic bottles or cans. If you choose to eat on the premises, there are plenty of options. None of them are special but will do the trick for a long day at the track.
The main concession stand is called the Championship Grill, and one major perk is that they offer a breakfast sandwich ($4). If you are going to spend a lot of time at the speedway over a weekend, it is great to have something that fits your morning taste buds. Additionally, you can find pizza ($6), brats ($6), corn dogs ($4), fries ($3), and even chef salads ($8). Cans of beer ($5) are available with the selection of Budweiser, Bud Light, Coors Light, and Miller Lite.
Coca-Cola products cost $4 for a 20-ounce bottle, while Gatorade ($4) and bottled water ($3) are also available. Cottage Inn Pizza is available ($8 for two slices or $15 for a whole pizza). A few vendors do sell their pizzas after the race for half the price.
Pro tip #1: Try a food item at the track but be sure to pack snacks and liquids in your container or backpack. You will likely be spending a full day at the track that includes a couple of hours before race time visiting vendor booths and pre-race activities.
Pro tip #2: Be sure to check out the vendor sponsor booths near the entrance of the stadium. They serve mini bacon sandwiches and a variety of food and soda/tea samples. We ate at a fast food place before parking and I kind of regretted doing so with the freebies we got before going into the track.
For more than four decades, Michigan International Speedway has been hosting the very best drivers in racing. Even better, this is a very fast track especially after the repaving that occurred in 2012 with cars topping speeds of 200 mph. You can expect a race time of fewer than three hours for the 400-mile event.
The main grandstand stretches from turn four past the finish line and up to turn one, featuring bleacher seats with backs. The legroom is fairly limited, but the height between rows helps to ensure that you'll have a good view of the cars as they circle the track.
MIS is one of three NASCAR tracks that play both the Canadian and American National Anthems before the race. You can also expect to hear a pre-race invocation, a clear sign that religion (Christianity) is closely tied to NASCAR. Also, it is a new tradition to play Kid Rock's "All Summer Long" before the race while fans do the wave.
Much of the atmosphere at a NASCAR event, and this is certainly true here at Michigan, is the interaction between fans who camp out for the weekend. Be sure you plan to make a day of it; if you arrive just to see the race, then you're missing much of the fun.
Because MIS is a two-mile track, it is tough to see the whole racing surface. It can be done sitting higher up and that's where fans typically want to sit at these events. The best seats in the house are by the start finish line towards the top. Here, you can see the entire straight away as well as the backstretch clearly. The seats around turn one are decent and a lot cheaper. Here, you see a lot of action after restarts. Sadly, seats along the backstretch as well as turn three have been taken out.
Most NASCAR venues aren't in a true neighborhood in the way that other sports venues are. Who wants to live or work near a track with all that noise? However, neighborhood in the NASCAR sense means campgrounds, amenities, and fun. If coming just to a race, you are missing out on the full experience.
There are quite a few small towns near the track with solid food options. Jerry's Pub on the Lake is a great choice, located a few miles to the east on US 12 and then north on Egan Highway. It's an unpretentious hangout with surprisingly good food and drink options along with outdoor seating. Downtown Brooklyn is just a few miles north of the speedway. Jimmy's Filling Station seems to be a popular choice with their sandwiches.
It is probably an over-used cliché to say that NASCAR fans are some of the most passionate fans around, but it seems to be true, especially at Michigan International Speedway. Michiganders have long had a love affair with automobiles, and being less than 100 miles from the auto capital of the world helps to further that passion. Local fans look forward all year to the chance to attend a NASCAR event in their own backyard.
You'll also find fans who travel the NASCAR circuit from California to New Hampshire and everywhere in between. There's a mix of good-time partiers who are there more for the pre-race atmosphere than the event itself, but there are also families, and plenty of smiling kids who just want to hear the roar of the engine.
The main thoroughfare to get to MIS is US 12. Try as they might, this road just isn't equipped to handle the throngs of people with ease. There is a large police presence to help guide the traffic, but the best advice is to be patient if arriving before or after the race. Expect the worst, and you'll be ready, if not pleasantly surprised. Ingress/egress gets easier each year but patience is still a virtue.
That said, parking is free, although in some cases you will have quite a walk to the track. Some lots have shuttles to and from the track. They are easy to use before the race. After the race it may be faster to walk to your car due to the number of people trying to use the shuttles all at once. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes, and don't forget that sunscreen.
Restrooms are plentiful here. Also, there are picnic tables and lots of shade under the bleachers if it gets too hot or you want to take a break. If you are sitting near the top of grandstand, you can expect a very long walk up the ramp, or a steep climb up the stairs. In either case, it is not a trip you want to make too frequently.
As with most sporting events, an event here is what you want to make of it. Tickets start at $25 and go up from there depending on where you want to sit and comfort level. Budget travelers can buy a cheap ticket, bring their own food/drink inside, and take advantage of free parking. The more you want to pay for a ticket, the better view you will have.
A few extra points are given to the ability to camp out here and make a weekend out of it. MIS does a fantastic job in bringing in concerts and other events for fans making a full day or weekend out of it.
Another bonus point is given for the ability to bring food and drink into the stadium-you will need plenty of water for the hot and humid Michigan races. This is common at most racetracks but is still worth mentioning. Attending sporting events can get pricey when food and drinks are put into the equation.
A trip to MIS is something Midwestern racing fans should do at least once. Yes, television coverage for NASCAR is great, but there is something about making a full day or weekend at a race track. The people watching, up close views, and track activities make it a fun trip to the Irish Hills of Brooklyn, Michigan.
Member Review by paul on Jun 20, 2012
Michigan International Speedway (called MIS for short) is a two-mile, D-shaped track located in southern Michigan in an area known as the Irish Hills. Since 1968, MIS has been home to NASCAR’s Quicken Loans 400 (although under the name of various sponsors over the years).
Cale Yarborough has won the event on six different occasions, including the first two races. Other drivers to win two or more Quicken Loans 400 include David Pearson (4), Bill Elliott (4), Rusty Wallace (3), Bobby Allison (2), Davey Allison (2), Mark Martin (2), Denny Hamlin (2), and most recently Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2), who snapped a 143 race streak without a victory before taking the checkered flag in 2012 (his first win since winning the event in 2008).
The interior of the speedway stretches over 150 acres, and the total facility covers more than 1,400 acres. There is plenty of camping around the facility, and many fans make a weekend out of a trip to Michigan International Speedway (with more than 9,000 campsites on the grounds).
Of all the events of the NASCAR Sprint Series schedule, only New Hampshire is further north, making Michigan a great destination for many northern NASCAR fans. Home to the Quicken Loans 400 during Father’s Day weekend, and the Pure Michigan 400 in mid-August, this fast track is a great place to spend a weekend for some of the best racing in NASCAR.
650 Egan Highway
Brooklyn, MI 49230
200 N Main St
Brooklyn, MI 49230
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