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Memphis International Raceway has hot spring, more to come in 2013

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

NASCAR legend Rusty Wallace was in town last month for a ribbon cutting at MIR.

NASCAR legend Rusty Wallace was in town last month for a ribbon cutting at MIR.

The staff at the Memphis International Raceway are off to a fast start in 2013.
Just before MIR’s second anniversary at the motorsports facility, big names and events have made headlines. MIR’s Vice President and General Manager Pam Kendrick said from the Rusty Wallace Racing Experience ribbon cutting in May to recent Ford Fun Weekend earlier this month, Memphis International Raceway is cementing their place in Millington’s culture.
“We love the pace,” she said. “It’s nothing better than to provide this much entertainment for the community and to provide the variety of events we’re able to provide. And there is also the support from the local community. We love this pace.”
The pace of growth has been evident since August 2011 with events at the drag strip and the introduction of driving experience. The weekly event for local racers like the Bracket Series also increased the interest in Memphis International Raceway during 2012.
But this year the staff of MIR wanted to focus on strengthening its relationship with the city of Millington and attract more national events. MIR made a major step on May 10 when NASCAR legend Rusty Wallace was in town for the ribbon cutting for the Rusty Wallace Racing Experience.
“We’re their new home for Middle Tennessee,” Kendrick said. “They will house cars here as well as run a racing experience as well as a carting experience on our three-quarter mile paved oval. To have that facility come back to life and be viable is so important to the overall facility. We’re excited about that.”
With the Wallace venture pumping more life into the motorsports facility, MIR showcases it’s relationship with the city of Millington and the business community on June 4 with the Hot Rod Magazine’s Flagship Touring.
“Anyone that was in or around Millington, you would have thought we became the state capitol with the amount of folks we had in town,” Kendrick said. “We exceeded more than 3,000 hot rods that come through for the tour. They all emerged on Memphis International Raceway, in which they have to check in at the destination at each city. But they went beyond that. They participated in our passport program through Millington, visited a lot of local businesses.”
Hot rods could be spotted on Highway 51, Church Street and Navy Road near Glen Eagle, Mirmichi, Jones Orchard, Millington Winery, Old Timers and more. The night concluded in Memphis with the stylish cars taking over world famous Beale Street.
The Ford Fun Weekend June 7-8 concluded the first half of events for 2013. Now MIR is has given the green light on part two of the year. Events like the IHRA Pro-Am, junior dragster series and Great America Bracket Race will be coming to town.
“These events are all bringing people into the community,” Kendrick noted. “The economic impact is huge to the community. These are not the local races who are coming to the events.”
The 2013 national schedule will conclude with the Pre-Thankgiving Bash in mid November. But before that event, Oct. 25-26 will bring back the feel of the old Nationwide Series weekend to the facility. MIR will host the Racing Is Back Memphis 250.
“The second full year of operation and we’ve brought in another viable racing option,” Kendrick noted. “When we first opened back in August 2011, the drag strip was the first facility that was able to open up and run. Of course the auto course came in with the drag strip.
“In 2012, we were able to bring in driving experiences and schools to the paved oval,” she continued. “But now they’re actually going to be a spectator event up there. It’s just broading what we’re able to offer to the racing community. From there, depending on how that race goes, will determine the future of that facility and what type of races we hold.”
From weekly events like the Test N Tune to the Racking is Back Memphis 250, the future looks bright for MIR. Kendrick said the hard work of the MIR staff and the developing relationships around Millington will make the outlook even better.
“We’re already such great partners,” she concluded. “Millington supports everything we do from Mayor (Terry) Jones has supported us 100 percent along with Commissioner (Terry) Roland. The Millington Chamber, the partnership is what we’re going to vy for. But the relationship are there and the building process is going to be great. We want Millington to thrive. We might not sit in the city limits but we are a significant partner with Millington.”

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