Designed by Charles Moneypenny, the same architect who created Daytona International Speedway, and located in the Irish Hills vacation-area of the south-central part of the state, Michigan International Speedway is best-known for the awesome speeds and competitive racing spawned by its broad racing surface and 73-foot-wide, 18-degree banked turns. Michigan’s width and steep banking ensure there’s always more than one racing groove, and the fact that MIS is a non-restrictor-plate track means NASCAR drivers have more than enough power to make a challenge out of the turns at both ends of the track.
Once upon a time Indy cars frolicked on those high banks at breathtaking speeds, witness Paul Tracy’s record qualifying lap of 234.949 mph. Today, Michigan regularly vies with Daytona, Talladega and Texas as NASCAR’s fastest speedway. While the facility’s Stirling Moss-designed 3.1-mile road course and the Can-Am and Trans-Am races of days gone-by are now just fond memories, the track has a 1.9-mile interior road course that has challenged professional and amateur racers down through the years.
It’s no wonder some of stock car racing’s most legendary drivers have thrived on the banks of MIS since Cale Yarborough defeated Lee Roy Yarbrough in the inaugural NASCAR race there in 1969. Richard Petty and David Pearson, Bobby and Davey Allison, Dale Earnhardt Senior and Junior, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson have all since added their names to the roll call of MIS winners, one that also includes names like Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Al Unser, Rick Mears, Alex Zanardi, Tony Kanaan and Sam Hornish from the days when IndyCar raced in the Irish Hills, not to mention Trans-Am winners Parnelli Jones and Mark Donohue. Allison to Yarborough, Andretti to Zanardi, the world’s greatest race drivers have been coming to Michigan International Speedway to test their mettle for more than 40 years. And the fans have followed by the hundreds of thousands.