Sale of Miller Motorsports Park complete

Below is a report about the sale of Miller Motorsports Park to the Mitime Investment and Development Group….

Last night (Tuesday August 18th) the Tooele County Commissioners announced at a County Public Meeting that they have begun formal sale procedures of the MMP property to the Mitime Investment and Development Group. This follows the recent announcement by the Larry H. Miller Group that they would be ending their lease of the property as of February 28, 2016. The sale follows several months of intensive review by the County Commissioners of the merits of several different proposals by groups offering to lease or purchase the site from the County.

Their final decision as announced to a packed hall of constituents, track supporters and business people with interest in the future of the facility, who overwhelmingly supported to County’s decision.

Who are Mitime? The Mitime Group is a fully owned subsidiary of Geely Holdings, the owners of the Geely Car Company of China, and the Volvo Automobile Company and several other automotive related businesses.

Mitime is the Investment and Development arm of the Geely Holdings, and is separate from their automotive group. Instead it is the vehicle whereby the Group’s owner, Mr. Shufu Li, investigates and develops new business opportunities. Mitime owns and operates twenty colleges and seven major universities in China, including the Geely University in Beijing, which focuses primarily on educating students in the skills required to work and operate in the fast growing Chinese automobile market.

Ten years ago, Mr. Li recognized that racing sells cars so Mitime was given the task of entering the Chinese motor racing world, which they did by starting a single seat, open wheeled car championship, using Geely engines. This could be equated with the Pro-Mazda level of racing here in the USA. Unfortunate the series failed to make significant headway, primarily because of the very undeveloped state of the entire Chinese road racing culture. Consequently, in 2009 Mitime was charged with the task of developing five major race facilities across China, with the purpose of developing a centrally run, organized and promoted group of viable facilities on which the Geely Group could build marketing and promotional campaigns for their automobiles. Interestingly, these were not to fall under the auspices of their automobile activities, so as to allow the circuits to attract and support the marketing efforts of multiple other car companies.

Alan Wilson was contracted to design and help develop these facilities, the first of which went into construction in 2012, but was closed by the Chinese Government in 2014 before it could be completed, as the land was deemed to be too close to a new major international airport being planned. So, while being paid out for all the work that had already taken place, Mitime suffered a three year set-back to their plans. Despite this Mitime proceeded with the design of a new track, located two kilometers away from Geely’s newest car manufacturing plant in Ningbo City, a four hour drive south of Shanghai. This facility is now under construction and due to open in 2017.

Mitime has constantly reviewed the state of the Chinese racing industry, and has concluded that, because there are only six active race tracks in the whole of China, they do not have a source of trained, experienced personnel with which to operate their upcoming new FIA2 standard facilities. On a recent visit to the USA, where they toured race facilities in several States, they toured Miller Motorsports Park, and on being made aware that the facility as for sale, determined to purchase it, in order to provide a base from which they could train new personnel for their Chinese tracks.

In addition that have added the development of multiple new, small paved oval tracks to their development plans in China, but as there are no ovals, oval cars, or drivers in China, also need a base from which to develop these. Consequently plans for MMP now include adding a 3/8 mile paved oval on which to base these new facilities. Following from this, they also recognize that there are no practical oval race cars in China, and as the ones that will race there need to be built to meet the needs of the Chinese market, several hundred will need to be designed and constructed over the next few years. These will now be designed, developed and built at MMP, and sold to their new tracks. These are among several plans being developed for their new Utah facility.

Perhaps the most interesting of this being their desire to add advanced automotive technical and engineering education facilities and programs to the overall business activity. These programs will follow existing relationships which Mitime has between two major North American Universities and their Chinese colleges, whereby pupils already spend two years in each as part of their four year graduation courses. The intent is now to add Universities and technical colleges in Utah to this program, with the curriculum being based on advanced automotive engineering and technology, with a specific focus on the needs of modern automobile racing. This program will start with outreach to local high schools and technical colleges to draw young students into the motor sports world as trained technicians capable of filling the growing need for qualified team members, at all levels of the sport. Finally, Mitime intends adding a high level single seater driver education program intended, not to teach drivers how to drive these cars, but rather to coach them at a very high level to race and win at levels needed to enable them to enter professional racing at fully competitive standards. This program will be based around an 8 weekend, 16 race program of racing at MMP through a single season, with the final event being a challenge event featuring the ten best under 21 North American drivers in this series, against the ten best under 21 Chinese drivers competing in Mitime’s nation single seat race program in China.

Mitime’s program for the former Miller Motor Sports Park is extensive, well-conceived and is supported by the group’s full commitment. This will begin with an $8,000,000 facility improvement and upgrade program starting as soon as Mitime are able to access the site and will continue with several years of further facility additions, the building of an on-site motel (the base for its Chinese students) and other site improvements. Mitime also intends to retain many of MMP’s existing staff to run the new facility, which will be managed under the oversight of former MMP General Manager, Alan Wilson.

In recognition of the new, educational format under which the facility will be operated, it has been given the name of the Utah Motorsports Campus. Business operations are scheduled to begin on the cessation of the Miller lease, currently due for February 28, 2016.

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