Michigan's history as an automotive powerhouse goes back a long way, to the days of Henry Ford. Yet it didn't stop with him either, as not only did the car make one of the biggest cities in the United States happen—Detroit—but it also made a lot of Michigan what it is today. That legacy is seen in the sport of road racing, and in Michigan, there are plenty of road races and road race tracks around to enjoy. From road races to the standard oval track, there's a lot of ground to cover, and we'll have just the machines to do it as we look at 10 great auto races in Michigan!
Dubbed “the best kept secret in Southeast Michigan,” the Waterford Hills Road Racing track offers a slate of races throughout large portions of the year, even times it may not seem all that smart to be running racing events. With Open Track Days, Club and Vintage Races along with the periodic Driver's School events, there's no shortage of excitement and variety out of Waterford Hills in Clarkston.
Repaved in 2015, the Gingerman Raceway track offers racers and spectators a wholly unusual setting. Set in over 300 acres of land, and featuring a fully-stocked fish pond, there's a lot more going on here than just races. There are many races to see, of course, but it's also possible to become a driver in these races. With an extended track length of 2.14 miles, it might be a long race, but it's certainly one of the most complex around.
When Grand Rapids staple the Grattan Raceway's website greets you with a message that the rumors that the raceway is for sale are false, you know there's a lot going on. And somewhere, there are a lot of depressed potential buyers, because this is a big deal. Regarded in some circles as one of the finest road race tracks in the United States, constant improvements are being made to make sure that this top-notch track stays top-notch.
The Kalamazoo Speedway in Kalamazoo represents a two-sided benefit for its visitors. Not only are a host of races held there, but in October, it becomes something completely different. Home to the Psycho Ward Haunted House, regarded as one of Michigan's better such entries, users get thrills of a whole different sort as they navigate mazes and face their own fears to avoid being included in the “Chicken Count,” a measure of how many depart early, wet themselves, or engage in even more embarrassing activities.
Auburn's Tri-City Motor Speedway offers some of the area's best dirt track racing, along with many of the standard amenities like concession stands with discounts on certain meal packages and souvenir stands. It also, perhaps uncharacteristically, allows users to bring in outside food and beverage, though no glass is allowed. Perhaps the best feature of this race track isn't its dirt track, but its commitment to continuous upgrade and renovation, as it's set to bring in a community bonfire pit as well as a children's play area.
More of a dirt road race than a full road race, Bark River has been operating in the Upper Peninsula not far from Escanaba for 42 years running. An operation of the Bark River Lions Club, event proceeds go to support a variety of community projects. There's a variety of races run on this track, ranging from stock trucks to light buggy and well beyond, ensuring that just about any race fan is satisfied.
It's not surprising that one of Michigan's premiere road races should be on hand in Detroit, home of Michigan's automotive heritage. The Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, meanwhile, is a massive IndyCar race track, though other breeds of car are seen like the Trans Am Series. This 2.3-mile track started in 1982, and though it was mainly a Formula One track, it eventually got CART sanction in 1989. A host of events and races are on hand, offering that so-necessary versatility.
Back in 2013, Michigan International Speedway—perhaps best known for its NASCAR races—did something very unusual. For the first time in almost 30 years, it opened its infield course for a major race. Over Memorial Day weekend, the Western Michigan Region of the Sports Car Club of America brought its multi-class lineup back into play. It's also used sometimes for the Extreme Experience, where visitors, for a separate fee, can drive the infield road course and the main oval.
While for the most part, Mid-Michigan Raceway Park in Fenwick is a fairly normal if somewhat small track, it does have an unusual event that may draw some interest: The 4-Cylinder Bombers races. What's unusual about this breed of races is the age of the drivers. Drivers can be as young as 12, assuming they have a parent's consent. There are places where such races can be seen, of course, but they're not the normal race, making them somewhat distinctive.
Home to a quarter-mile lighted road course, interested race fans can also check out the fifth-mile concrete over, the one-sixth-mile dirt oval, and a host of events contained therein. Featuring a 12-hour endurance challenge event, there's a lot going on at Jackson Speedway, and race fans will get no shortage of action.