Report: Former Michigan president discusses departure from track

(John M. Galloway/Special to the News)

In a lengthy interview with the Detroit Free Press, former Michigan International Speedway president Roger Curtis answered questions sregarding his announced departure from the track on Tuesday and his future.

Curtis, who has been at MIS for a decade, said talks with International Speedway Corporation leading to the announcement had been going on for “several weeks probably.”

The news came two days after the track held its second NASCAR weekend of the year, which ended with Kyle Larson winning his first Sprint Cup race.

“ISC and I just decided that we’ve done a lot of great things here and it was time for those great things to continue,” Curtis told the paper. “But probably a good time to let someone else come in and take a fresh look at things. See how they take the track forward.”

While ISC searches for Curtis’ replacement, ISC chief operating officer Joie Chitwood will oversee operations at the 2-mile track.

Curtis arrived at MIS after serving as vice president of marketing at Auto Club Speedway and president of marketing at Richmond and Watkins Glen before that. Curtis said he knew what he was getting into at MIS as far as “traffic problems,” track conditions and fans.

“I did not know – would have made a lot of money if I did – that the entire country was going to go into as deep a recession as it did,” Curtis told the newspaper. “We knew the auto industry in Michigan was struggling a little bit and there was already starting to be some layoffs here and there. We thought as early as 2006 and 2007 we might have some regional issues. I had no idea we were going to have this massive, gargantuan recession worldwide. At Michigan, we were Ground Zero for it. We tried our best to navigate through there and I thought we did a really good job.”

You can read the rest of the lengthy interview with Curtis on his tenure at Michigan at the Detroit Free Press.