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For Miller, the race is on

Jazz owner hopes to have new tracks complete by April

GRANTSVILLE — Larry Miller sat in the air-conditioned trailer, against a backdrop of a green and white rendering of his new race complex, and called it an "entrepreneur's dream."

"There's so much I can do. The opportunity to do things, to share with people, are limitless," he said as he presented what he called the official beginning of the Miller Motorsports Park. "It's like branches on a tree, the further out you go, this idea spawns three more and each of those spawns three or four more."

In this case he's talking ideas centered around racing.

On a site east of Grantsville, the sports park will have a go-cart track, 20 buildings, including a clubhouse for guests, an auto museum and two race tracks that, when blended together, will compose the longest series of turns and straightaways in the country.

The track is a $40 million investment Miller said he's been looking forward to for a long time. He also made it clear that he doesn't expect track revenues to pay for more than the cost of maintenance.

"I have to say that more than anything else, this race track is just for fun," he said.

"Those of you who have been around me for the past 26 1/2 years have seen me do different things for different reasons, most of them automotive-related. And even though a lot of you think my collection of businesses is somewhat eclectic, and on the surface it may seem so, to me all of this is done really by design. There's a pattern to them wherein each of them supports and strengthens the rest."

The facility is located on 511 acres of desolate land that at this point has one of the two tracks finished and work underway on the rest of the facilities.

Heading the design group is Alan Wilson, noted track designer and CEO/general manager of the sportspark. Wilson has designed race tracks all over the world.

The Grantsville complex will, in fact, be his third track designed for Miller.

The first was in Colorado. Miller purchased 220 acres there, but failed to check on zoning regulations. The second site was in Salt Lake County, and while he did get zoning approval, environmental issues ended plans.

So, he moved his dream project to Tooele County where he was able to get zoning and environmental OKs, and enough land to build his dream track.

"I told the group of close friends when this all started out that I was just going to build a track and then go out and drive until we're silly . . . That was three years ago," he added.

In explaining the track layout on the plat hanging on the wall behind Miller, Wilson said the nine-tenths-of-a-mile-long go-cart track will open this month and called the track "crucial to us as a marketing tool and a fun tool, a place where people can come and have fun while the races are going on," he explained.

Among other things it will also be a training track and a competitive venue.

The main attraction, however, will be the side-by-side road courses. The East Track will be 2.24 miles long and the West Track 2.2 miles. The design of the complex will allow the two tracks to be connected or raced independently. The outside perimeter of the two tracks will be 3.06 miles.

The complex, buildings and all, is expected to be finished by April.

"Yes," said Wilson as he looked out to the west as heavy equipment raced about, "it will be done. Right now we're three weeks ahead of schedule."

Miller said there were a couple of goals he set early in the planning stages.

One, he wanted to offer a "broad spectrum of racing" without financial limitations. "I don't want to limit potential users. I'm not going to do that," he said.

Two, he intends to make racing as affordable as possible for a broad spectrum of fans and racers.

The first races will be local events and are scheduled to run in April. The first major event on the calendar will be an AMA Superbike race June 16-18.

Other major events will include an American LeMans Series, Road Rally and Historic Sportscar Racing.


E-mail: grass@desnews.com