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Roger Curtis steps down as MIS president

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Roger Curtis resigned after 10 years as president of Michigan International Speedway, entertaining the infield crowd by dressing up as Elvis, and even presiding over weddings during race weekends.

Roger Curtis resigned after 10 years as president of Michigan International Speedway.

“Today was my last day at MIS,” the 49-year-old Curtis said during a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon. “It’s probably a good time for the track to go in a different direction.”

When asked if he was forced out, Curtis replied, “No,” but also didn’t have any plans set for his future, saying: “I have no idea. I’m going to leave all my options open. I have a lot of loves and passions and, hopefully, I’ll be able to find a job in one of those and, hopefully, we can stay in Michigan, but if we do end up going someplace else that will work out too.”

Curtis and MIS played host to the Pure Michigan 400 this past weekend with Kyle Larson winning his first career race.

NASCAR Sprint Cup racing was at its high point 20 years ago with attendance at a reported 160,000 for the June and August races each season.

In past decade years, Curtis had to deal with the recession and waning fan interest, which resulted in dwindling attendance. Attendance for the two MIS races this season was approximately 160,000.

Still, Curtis used his creativity to get fans to come to MIS, including the Faster Horses Country festival during the past few summers. Last year, he brought in the three-day Keloorah Music Festival during race weekend to introduce NASCAR to  millennials.

“I’m really proud of the relationship we’ve built with Live Nation and bringing Faster Horses on the map nationally, being recognized as one of the best festivals in the entire country in just four years speaks volumes about Live Nation and certainly our team since we were in partnership with them.

“I leave with a lot of tremendous memories and I leave with a lot of people I’m going to stay friends with and that’s probably at the end of the day the most important thing, that’s our business statement right … make lasting memories for every person every time and MIS succeeded in doing that for me.”

Sammie Lukaskiewicz, vice president of marketing at MIS, will oversee operations in the interim until a new president is found, said Joie Chitwood, International Speedway Corporation chief operating officer.