Raze the roof! MIS suite demolition under way

Published 6:54 am Friday, August 21, 2009

Demolition of the suites and media center at MIS has begun. (The Daily News/Provided by MIS)

Demolition of the suites and media center at MIS has begun. (The Daily News/Provided by MIS)

BROOKLYN – Two days after the “Show Me the Carfax Race Weekend” at Michigan International Speedway, crews have begun demolishing the suite/media center at the racetrack.

Alro Steel’s suite on the south side of structure toward the racetrack’s Turn 1 was the first to go, thanks to a CAT backhoe operated by Blue Star, the demolition contractor our of Warren, Mich. Steel, glass, concrete and other materials from the 30-year-old building crumbled under the force of the enormous machine. The materials from the old building will be recycled.

“It’s very exciting to see a building fall, but to know that this is the beginning of eventually redesigning our entire infield and being able to touch so many different aspects of our sport – fans, drivers, crews, media and corporate partners – makes this project truly special,” MIS President Roger Curtis said. “We are also directly contributing to the local economy by using Michigan-based businesses.”

The razing of the suite building makes way for a solar-powered, glass and steel, two-story structure for corporate clients and media. The building is scheduled to be completed three weeks prior to the track’s June 11-13 NASCAR weekend in 2010.

The scope of the $17 million project includes demolition and rebuilding the Americrown kitchen, relocating the track’s Sunoco fueling tanks and extending the pedestrian tunnel. The so-called “gopher hole” will extend beyond the suites from its current location in the oval-grass to behind the suites so it may be used during race time.

There was some urgency to get started on the massive project right away, Bill Jacobitz from Clark Construction, the track’s Lansing, Mich., general contractor, said. Crews want to clear the tunnel work and demolish the buildings so driving school dates, the Michigan State High School Athletic Association cross country meet in November and other events already scheduled at the racetrack are not affected by the construction.

MIS’ terrace suites have been an iconic statement at the racetrack for nearly 30 years. The brown and tan terrace suite spanned pit road and overlooked the garage and track action, and quickly became a popular hangout for corporate partners and media alike. Even MIS staffers knew the key place to watch the first few laps of the race – from atop the terrace suites.

The building had been extended once in it’s time, and throughout the years, improved with minor renovations. But a new building was needed as part of an eventual phase-in of a redesigned infield that could include a fan walk-style entertainment area.

Though crews tore through most of the building Tuesday, the official demolition kicks off Aug. 26 when NASCAR driver Jeff Burton will drive a CAT excavator through several suites left standing on the north end. The speedway has invited a few fans to the event as part of its Fan Appreciation Program. The fans were selected from a random drawing held at the track over the weekend.

“This project is big for us, but it also seems bit like ‘business as usual’ as MIS is always doing something for our fans and partners,” Curtis said. “I can’t wait to watch it all unfold and then take shape as we’re all a part of shaping the future of one of the greatest racetracks in the country.”