Improvements are currently underway at one of Maryland’s most popular racetracks, Maryland International Raceway, just in time for the start of the 2012 season. The IHRA sanctioned track hosts dozens of events every season, with at least one event happening every weekend from March through November. With the track getting a lot of use, the Miller family, owners of MIR since 1989, thought it was time to give the raceway a bit of an upgrade.
The track sees tens of thousands of spectators pass through its gates every weekend, and MIR’s wooden bleachers just weren’t cutting it anymore. The plan has been to gradually replace the old wooden bleachers with aluminum seats in stages. The final stage took place this offseason. Now the raceway boasts 10,000 alumninum seats. With the removal of some of the wooden bleachers, the track now has improved sight lines and unobstructed views from the spectator tailgate area, as well.
The seats weren’t the only things getting an upgrade. Improvements have also been made to the starting area, including a new garage and the center pad at the starting line. The new garage is being built to hold the track’s equipment and keep it out of the elements. The equipment will be used to maintain the track before, during and after events, giving racers better traction at the beginning of their runs.
The Millers made sure that the starting line itself was not changed, but the aesthetics of the center pad, where the light tree stands, have been upgraded. Many of the raceway’s events are broadcasted and photographed, so they wanted a better aesthetic for TV and film. The track’s old guardrails around the pad have been removed and replaced with concrete walls. This provides better protection for the racers and more sponsorship opportunities for the track, as there is now room for signage on the concrete barriers.
The safety of the racers and spectators was definitely at the forefront of the Millers’ minds, as the track has also added a second ambulance and firetruck to the raceway’s emergency vehicles. The raceway staffs their own EMTs and firefighters, and they will now have them manning both ends of the racetrack. This goes above and beyond what MIR is required to provide.
Something that didn’t get upgraded was the concession stand on the spectator side; it was knocked down instead. The old building from the 1970s stopped being used after a newer concession area was built on the pit side a few years ago. The Millers decided to just tear down the old concession stand and use concession trailers and outside vendors on that side of the track.
The improvements will not diminish the capacity of the track (15 to 20,000 people), but rather improve the amenities for and safety of the racers and spectators. With all of these changes, Maryland International Raceway is expecting an even better season this year, and at no additional cost to ticket holders; ticket prices will remain the same for this season. All of the upgrades were made possible through last season’s profits.