By on May 9, 2015

Miller Motorsports Park

If you’ve meant to make the trip to Utah to turn some laps around Miller Motorsports Park, you might want to do it this year. The jewel of a circuit located a short drive from Salt Lake City, built to the tune of $100 million, will close October 31st.

The track was a project envisioned by the often controversial Larry H. Miller, a Salt Lake City native and lifelong resident, businessman, and philanthropist. Miller, whose other ventures included retail, entertainment, automotive, and professional sports businesses before his death in 2009, first broke ground on the track in 2004 before it was opened two years later.

The track’s closing at the end of this racing season will mean it lasted only 10 years.

The Larry H. Miller Group, the company that operates Miller Motorsports Park, does not own the land on which the race track is built; instead, it is leased to the group by Tooele County. The group will not be renewing the lease with the county, effectively shutting it down. All assets at the 511-acre site will also return to the county.

“On behalf of my family, I would like to thank all of those who have supported the track over the years, both locally and worldwide, for their enthusiasm and use of the facility,” Larry H. Miller Group owner Gail Miller said in a statement released by the organization.

Not all hope is lost for the facility. County commissioners are now tasked with looking for someone or a group to take over the facility and the Miller Group has said they’d assist in the process.

“It was part of our conversation this afternoon,” said Tooele County Commissioner Shawn Milne to Deseret News. “They have assured us and we are faithful that there will be a smooth transition.”

Scheduled events will continue uninterrupted this summer. An all-day opening party is set for next weekend.

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18 Comments on “Miller Motorsports Park Closing This Fall After 10 Years of Operation...”

  • avatar

    Shame, racing seems to be controlled by big business now. There is no grass roots racing around my place any more and the nearest track, a few hours away, is going to close too.

    • 0 avatar

      If it were only that simple. The demise of many local tracks across the county isn’t so much driven by “big business” interests, but by declining gate attendance at the races. Younger generations just aren’t into auto racing as much as 30 or 40 years ago, there’s too many other forms of entertainment that compete for people’s discretionary spending, and small facilities simply can’t keep the doors open if nobody’s coming to the races.

      On the demand side, NASCAR dominates professional racing in the US almost to the exclusion of every other form of racing, and that’s forced “big business” to concentrate sponsorship dollars in an around NASCAR. Even large companies only have so much marketing budget to spend on activities like racing, and they want the most bang for the buck, and that means spending money where the people — and eyeballs — are. And these days that’s NASCAR, pure and simple. Not good for other forms of racing, but it’s how it is, unfortunately.

      One good thing has been the proliferation of private road courses around the county. In road racing, anyway, grassroots motorsports is thriving with organizations like NASA, SCCA and many local and regional “marque” clubs sponsoring open track “HPDE” events all around the country. So, grassroots motorsports is actually doing quite well in many areas.

    • 0 avatar

      Pig_Iron – – –

      Maybe people are losing their interest in sports car racing?

      Many NASCAR bleachers are empty now. F1 struggles to keep only profitable circuits. ALMS became so weak that the France family bailed it out to form Tudor USSC.

      Statements coming for Dieter Zetsche suggest that the era of sports cars may be closing. And BMW has yet to make a replacement for its questionable Z4 (of which I own one – see avatar).

      Frankly I Have stopped watching both F1 and Tudor USCC races: the scoring systems are biased (IMHO), and the events lack the purity and no-holds-barred flavor they used to have. They are just spec races, which are turning into Big Business.

      Wanna have a good race? Just give everyone 100 gallons of fuel for a 2-hour race (within a certain category), and say: “have at it”!


      • 0 avatar

        more specifics (in order of importance/inclusion):

        spec driver cage
        minimum size (could be the same as minimum driver cage for all I care)/envelope
        maximum size/envelope (don’t block the entire track…)

        charged electric batteries shall be charged via the 100 gallons of fuel (but by any available engine).

        Really. This is your fuel. This is your cage. Don’t leave liquids/parts on the track. Any questions?

  • avatar

    It’s not in Colorado, but imagine the misplaced irony if it were taken over and spruced up by Coors…

    • 0 avatar

      Well, Colorado raises a question. How is PPIR(Pikes Peak Intl Raceway) near Colo Springs doing? I went to an autocross there last July, and saw it for the first time. Nice expensive-looking track, I wonder if it is supported enough by the locals(Denver-Colo Springs).

  • avatar
    el scotto

    SABMiller and Molson Coors actually operate as a joint venture in the US named MillerCoors. The real irony is the Miller is no longer “made the American way” and Pete Coors isn’t filming an ad in the Rockies and talking about his family owned brewery.

  • avatar

    $100 million and they don’t own the land? Does acreage go for that much in the Utah boonies?

    Whatever the circumstances, I’m sure his heirs are less than thrilled that dad’s pet project flushed eight figures of their inheritance down the drain.

    • 0 avatar

      My guess is that it wasn’t a matter of how much the land would cost, it was the govt wanting to get the economic stimulus and eventually possibly end up with something free. They likely leased the land for next to nothing and/or gave significant tax breaks and of course included the wording that they retained the improvements should they not renew the lease.

      It looks like the govt is sitting pretty now. The own the facility outright and can now lease it to someone at a favorable rate that will be all profit, in addition to the economic benefits that they will receive from spectators and participants.

  • avatar
    Ron B.

    The same thing that happened to the ‘Ring will probably happen to this….or some Prophet will move in with his Harem and build a compound.

  • avatar

    What a shame indeed. Probably will take Penske, the France family or similar large entity with a racing orientation and enough scale to absorb operating losses. Unfortunately there’s just not enough “gate” volume at MMP to sustain a profitable, let alone breakeven, business model.

    I attended Ford Racing School’s ‘Boss Track Attack’ program for new Boss 302 owners at MMP in 2013, and loved the track. Truly world-class in all respects, including Larry Miller’s astounding Shelby/Ford race car collection housed there. Heck, if they sold off the collection they’d probably raise enough cash to offset operating losses for a several years. MMP’s closing will be a big loss to the motorsports world.

  • avatar

    Does anyone really care anymore? Motorsport has become a bad punchline. The industry has no self-respect, and the track owners never banded together, though they have the most to lose. Sad.

  • avatar

    I lived in Utah for most of the time the track was open, and my brother lives about 10 minutes away. I’d go to VIR or Summit Point at least once or twice a year while I was on the East Coast but I never did any sort of track day at Miller.

    I think if anything the facility was too ambitious for the market. There isn’t a huge population of people with the interest and the disposable income to support a track like that in Utah. They built it big, expected huge crowds, and priced it out of the reach of casual car guys and fans. There have been very few independent HPDE events so unless you plan on jumping in with both feet on NASA racing there aren’t a lot of ways to participate without sinking in a pretty significant investment.

    Here’s hoping Ford buys it out and turns it into their version of “Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca” or the BMW Performance Center. With the FiST and FoST, new GT, and various hot Mustangs I think expanding the Ford Performance Racing School makes a lot of sense for them.

  • avatar

    Miller’s favorite movie?

    Field of Dreams…

  • avatar

    I’m surprised it lasted as long as it did after Larry Miller and the one son who shared his vision of the track both passed away. Race tracks aren’t the most financially efficient uses of real estate. Without a patriarch (or matriarch) with deep pockets and an interest in keeping the doors open, this is bound to happen.

  • avatar

    Sports car racing* in the United States has always been a niche sport. Nothing has really changed since it was introduced in the US after WWII. It will keep going at a low level: tracks will open, close, then re-open (e.g. VIR); racing series will end and new series will take their place (e.g. ALMS to Tudor); US auto manufactures will build appropriate cars then stop and then start again (e.g. Ford GT).

    * on road courses, largely European marques, long endurance races the 24 hours of Le Man being the archetype…

  • avatar

    This isn’t a track I’ve driven on, but watching pro races there on TV it’s always seemed totally boring, at least from a spectator’s point of view. Miller’s 23 (IIRC) turns all look more similar than they really are, and with nothing more than desert scrub as a backdrop. And why, or even how, they managed to build a track with no elevation change in that part of the world baffles me. If you want to see a recent era race track built the way it should be, try Barber.

    It’s sad to see a race track go, but unless you live in that area, where alternatives are scant, Miller won’t be much of a loss.

  • avatar

    I can’t help but see the fate of this track as being tied to the rise and fall of good sports car racing (ie ALMS) in the US. It broke ground when the ALMS was in it’s growth phase and began hosting races during the “golden years” of 2006-2008. With the ALMS losing its “world class” luster until being absorbed into TUSC mediocrity (GTLM class not withstanding). I would imagine that times are difficult for most race tracks.

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