10 Fun Facts About Michigan International Speedway

Photo courtesy of Craig Gardiner Photography

Photo courtesy of Craig Gardiner Photography

Pure Michigan 400 race weekend is here! More than 100,000 fans will be at Michigan International Speedway to cheer on their favorite drivers as they race around NASCAR’s fastest track on August 17th.

Think you know NASCAR? Test your knowledge with these lesser known facts about Michigan International Speedway

  • The 40 trams used at MIS that bring fans from the parking lots to the track were the same trams used at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
  • Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson has never won at MIS, but he’s the honorary president of the MIS Kids Club. He even holds special events at the track.
  • There are 9,000 campsites at MIS – making it the largest registered campground in the State of Michigan.
  • Marcos Ambrose broke the 200 MPH barrier in qualifying in 2012. Marcus was recorded at 203.241 mph.
  • Bill Elliot is the active driver who has led the most laps at MIS. In his 37 year racing career Elliot has been in the lead at MIS for 1004 laps.
  • Parking is always free at MIS! Guests can also bring in their own food and beverages, and parking lots open two hours before the grandstand so there is plenty of time for tailgating.
  • MIS is NASCAR’s fastest racetrack! MIS is superfast due to the repave in 2012 and long straightaways on the track that let drivers reach their highest speeds.
  • People have gotten married at the track before, but did you know that Roger Curtis presided over the wedding? It’s true! Roger Curtis, the president of MIS is an ordained minister and married a happy couple in Gatorade Victory Lane on June 17, 2012.
  • David Pearson has won the most Cup poles at MIS with 10. Who will take the pole this year?
  • MIS is the only racetrack where a fan awards a special trophy to the winning driver and team. It’s part of MIS’s Fan Appreciation Program.

Plan a visit to MIS and other Michigan automotive attractions at michigan.org. Follow the race on Twitter at #PureMichigan400. 

Five Reasons to Race Across the Mighty Mackinac Bridge

Stretch those hammies and get ready for the Mighty Mac Bridge Race – a certified, 11k run like no other in Michigan or beyond. Today, Mindy Rutgers from St. Ignace Visitors Bureau tells us why this race is a can’t-miss.

Mackinac BridgeThe Mighty Mac Bridge Race will take place on Saturday, September 27, 2014 with the starting line in Mackinaw City and the finish line and after party in St. Ignace. What makes this race special? Here are five reasons you’ll want to race across the Mighty Mac.

Twice as Nice

Why run a course on one peninsula when you can cover two? This span connects Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with the Lower Peninsula. Why run on a bridge that crosses one body of water when you can race across the nexus of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan? One is fine but twice is nice and that’s never truer than when your own two feet are taking you to new heights.

Bucket-List Worthy

Photo courtesy of St. Ignace Visitors Bureau

Photo courtesy of St. Ignace Visitors Bureau

If you’re a runner with a bucket list of interesting locales, what could be better than the 5th longest suspension bridge in the world? Maybe the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere? Check! The Mackinac Bridge is the fifth longest in the world and the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere with a total length of 26,372 feet. For those keeping track, the length of the suspension portion is 8,614 feet.

Enjoy the Journey AND the Destination

For those who say the journey is more important than the destination, we say you can have your fudge and eat it, too. Enjoy a truly awe-inspiring view across the five-mile bridge and then land in picturesque St. Ignace, where a Samuel Adams party, complete with participant medals and division trophies, awaits. From Noon to 6pm, snag some swag while mingling with runners, visitors, and people who only wish they had your endurance and commitment.

Carb Loading Yooper Style

Photo courtesy of St. Ignace Visitors Bureau

Photo courtesy of St. Ignace Visitors Bureau

There’s never been a better excuse to have a baked potato with your fresh-caught whitefish dinner or a traditional U.P. pasty, with its starchy potato and ground beef filling, than fueling up for a race. Foods of all types are found in St. Ignace restaurants and, of course, the car trip home might require a slab of fudge or two. Go ahead. You earned it.

This isn’t just any selfie

Race participants will each receive a “Time to the Top” photo on the Mackinac Bridge – a truly special memento from race day. Forget the selfie. Watch the comments roll in when you share this picture on social media. Runners will also receive a long-sleeve t-shirt and a Kewadin Casino package, which means the Mighty Mac Bridge Race could make you both rich and famous.

Learn more and register for the Mighty Mac Bridge Race at www.stignace.com or call (800)338-6660.

Mindy Rutgers is the Executive Director of the St. Ignace Visitors Bureau. She has worked in Michigan’s tourism & hospitality industry since 1996, holding posts in the Detroit metro area, as well as in the Upper Peninsula.  

Have Appetite, Will Travel: A Guide to Grand Rapids Restaurant Week 2014

Restaurant Week Grand Rapids is happening August 13-24, 2014. Sixty restaurants offer three-course tasting menus featuring their culinary team’s skills and the West Michigan harvest. Molly Crist, Experience Grand Rapids blogger and Onward Travel tour operator, fills us in on this year’s RWGR highlights.

Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

Grand Rapidians love food, beer, wine, and getting out on the town… which makes Restaurant Week one of the best times of the year in our corner of the Mitten. It’s time to head to West Michigan and warm a restaurant seat while soaking up the waning summer because RWGR is happening Wednesday, August 13 to Sunday, August 24. Read on for highlights of this year’s event that combines creative chefs, a range of beverages, the peak of Michigan’s harvest, and summertime revelry.

Great food for a terrific value

Three-course menus are $28 per person, though you’ll find two for $28 at several restaurants: Lindo Mexico, Rezervoir Lounge, Fajita Republic and Osta’s Lebanese Cuisine. Check out Fajita Republic’s DIY guacamole – fresh haas avocados with a selection of toppings (spiced pepitas, pico de gallo, bacon, chiles, oh my!) that you can mix until your heart’s content.

Perfect timing

August is the height of harvest in West Michigan. It’s the best time of the year for farmers markets and gardeners (holy summer squash!), which means locavore chefs are smiling, too. RWGR menus celebrate the bounty and your taste buds will, too. From sweet corn, to heirloom tomatoes, to Great Lake fish, it doesn’t get any fresher.

Food and beverage pairing

Alambre_Especial1

Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

This year’s theme is Perfect Pairings. GR’s reputation as Beer City USA is well established with fifteen craft breweries and more popping up all the time. The Great Lake’s ability to insulate coastal farmland, keeping it cool in summer and preventing a bitter freeze in winter, means Michigan has a climate for wine production, and fortunately many local producers are creating delicious wines. Distilleries are popping up around the state, with creative spirits growing in popularity. To celebrate Michigan’s status as a beverage-producing-triple-threat – not to mention all the carefully roasted and brewed coffees – RWGR’s theme emphasizes the art of pairing food and drink.

CitySen is featuring a Southern-Style American menu, from Fried Green Tomatoes, to Chicken and Waffles, to Pecan Pie. Try the Baby Back Ribs braised in Bell’s Oberon paired with a pint of Oberon mixed with Founders’ Rubaeus, a good complement to the fruity house-made BBQ sauce.  Bar Divani has an eclectic, flavor-forward-menu that offers an appetizer, salad, and entree – try starting with the Pulled Pork Rangoons with Sesame Chili Sauce, paired with a glass of Noel Bougrier Vouvray.

Local beverages are in the food, too!

In addition to pairing food and drink, chefs are cooking with locally-made beverages. At Grand Rapids Brewing Company, you can enjoy Michigan’s only certified organic brewery and chef-inspired, gourmet cuisine. The Brewer’s Flan on GRBC’s RWGR menu is a chocolate stout custard with cocoa nibs, salted caramel and mint, no doubt delicious with some stout in your glass, too. The Rubeaus Cheesecake at Licari’s is quite decadent, too, with Amoretti Cookie crust and a suggested pairing of Ferris Coffee Nicaraguan brew or Atwater’s Decadent Chocolate Stout.

Do good while dining

Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

One dollar from each meal goes towards a scholarship fund at the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education at Grand Rapids Community College. Since 2010, RWGR participating restaurants have donated almost $75,000 to the fund. It’s all about growing our local food culture in Grand Rapids, from farms to classrooms.

Cocktail competition

Local mixologists at participating RWGR restaurants are shaking it up for the Grand Cocktail competition that debuts August 6. Mixologists will vie to win an all-expense paid trip to Woodford Reserve in Kentucky. You can participate by sipping cocktails around town and voting at restaurantweekgr.com. Start at Judson’s at the B.O.B. with a sip of their Bufala Negra, a seasonal concoction of Woodford Reserve, basil, brown sugar, ginger beer and balsamic brown sugar simple syrup. Cheers, indeed!

Be a part of the fun

Beyond the tantalizing food choices, RWGR is an annual dining highlight because of the bustling atmosphere and feeling of culinary-inspired revelry.

Take advantage of an opportunity to visit a spot that might normally be out of your price range, a newly opened restaurant, or a place you’ve never been. invite your friends and enjoy wonderful food, a bustling city, a walkable downtown with many dining choices, and al fresco dining options to make the most of the beautiful summer nights ahead.

Do you plan to check out Grand Rapids Restaurant Week?