Q & A with Pure Michigan 400 Grand Marshals Meryl Davis and Charlie White

We recently announced that Olympic Champion ice dancers, Meryl Davis and Charlie White, will give the command “Start your engines!” as Grand Marshals at this year’s Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 17th. Today, Meryl and Charlie answer our questions about their training, the race and their favorite things to do in Pure Michigan!  

How did you get started in ice dancing? 

2014 Winter Olympic Games - Season 2014Charlie: I started figure skating and playing hockey at age 5. I started ice dance specifically because I was figure skating too much like a hockey player, and I needed to work on the basics.

Meryl: I started ice-dancing when Charlie’s coach at the time asked if I would be interested in trying-out with Charlie. I hadn’t danced before and didn’t know much about the sport. I was nine.

Have you done any of your training in Michigan? If so, where? 

Meryl and Charlie: We’ve always trained in Michigan. We started at the Detroit Skating Club, and we now train at the Canton Arctic Edge.

What do you love most about training in Michigan? 

Charlie: The atmosphere is very conducive for working hard, and I think that’s something Michigan really prides itself on. Michigan is the place to be if you are a competitive figure skater!

Meryl: We’re so lucky to train in Michigan. Not only do we have access to the world’s best coaching and facilities, but we’re able to stay close to home. It’s so rare to have such world class opportunities right in one’s own back yard!

What is your favorite thing to do in Michigan when you’re not training? 

Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 3.18.58 PMCharlie: My fiancée and I are huge fans of the parks here. We love to take our dog on long walks or go kayaking - there’s so much to do.

Meryl: I love getting outdoors! No matter the time of year, there’s always something special to see around Michigan. Summers are particularly special as I grew-up on a lake and love spending days on the boat with my family.

Name one thing that fans might be surprised to learn about you.

Charlie: I’m a huge sci-fi and fantasy geek!

What advice would you give to any beginning athletes out there? 

Charlie: Whatever you’re doing, make it fun. Because training is always going to be hard, but if it’s fun it makes it so much easier!

Meryl: As an athlete, one’s support team is vital. Still, I think the best advice I can give is to listen to yourself; your dreams, your goals and your dedication have to be your own.

What about serving as Grand Marshals of the Pure Michigan 400 are you most looking forward to?

Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 3.19.48 PMCharlie: We love being able to represent Michigan across the world, but we especially cherish the opportunities to celebrate Michigan with our fellow Michiganders!

Meryl: Charlie and I are so excited to have the opportunity to experience new things! We’ve been busy representing our state on the world and Olympic stages, so getting to come home and make memories with our friends and family is truly special.

Where is your favorite Pure Michigan getaway destination? 

Charlie: We made it to Petoskey for my fiancées birthday in July and so far I think that’s definitely our favorite destination so far. But wet looking forward to exploring even more.

Meryl:  I love Good Hart (outside of Harbor Springs).

What does Pure Michigan mean to you?

Charlie: Pure Michigan is everything that makes Michigan special.  There is so much to offer here, and Pure Michigan is such a great way to highlight the amazing opportunities some may otherwise miss out on!

Meryl: Pure Michigan means home; it means getting back to my roots and enjoying the simple beauty our state has to offer.

 Watch Meryl and Charlie take NASCAR driver Austin Dillon for a spin on the ice in the video below and catch them at the Pure Michigan 400 at MIS this Sunday, August 17, 2014! 

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. 

Here’s Your Chance to be the Honorary Starter at the 2014 Pure Michigan 400!

PM_400_Contest_403Can you picture yourself as the Honorary Starter at the Pure Michigan 400? As part of a contest we’re hosting with Michigan International Speedway (MIS) on the Pure Michigan Facebook page, fans have the chance to win the honor of waving the green flag at the August 17th race.

Contest details are as follows:

TO ENTER

Go to the contest tab on the Pure Michigan Facebook page and simply tell us in 50 words or less why you should be selected as the Honorary Starter at the Pure Michigan 400. The entry period is from July 28 – August 6. Please note that submissions may take up to 24 hours to post.

TO VOTE

Fans of the Pure Michigan Facebook page can vote on their favorite submissions up to once a day throughout the duration of the contest. Pure Michigan will choose the winner from the top 10 most-voted entries.

THE PRIZE

The winner will serve as the Honorary Starter at the Pure Michigan 400 on August 17! He or she will also receive four tickets to the race for friends and family. Please note that all other expenses including travel to Michigan International Speedway are at the winner’s own expense.

Interested in becoming the Honorary Starter? Head over to the Pure Michigan Facebook page today to submit your entry! 

Will you be at the Pure Michigan 400? Share with us below and get in on the discussion by following the #PureMichigan400 hashtag on Twitter!