Revving engines, a roaring crowd, pulsating music and the thrill of victory are all part of your experience at Auto City Speedway in Clio. In its 60-year history, Auto City has entertained hundreds of thousands of people with Short Track Stock Car Racing on its paved half-mile, quarter-mile and Figure 8 tracks. Hundreds of fans and their families enjoy racing events every Saturday night, from April through September. Joe DeWitte has owned the track for 16 years. “It opened originally in 1955 and was just a dirt track in the middle of a farm field,” says Joe. It was previously owned by Jack Doering and in 1986 the track was paved. The trend at that time was asphalt over dirt. “Some of the fans would be just covered in dirt,” laughs the owner.
“Auto City Speedway isn’t just about racing. We view ourselves as an entertainment arena.” Joe DeWitte
There are usually 20 to 30 races per season, and this season is loaded with over 30 racing events, according to Sharon Fischer, who handles all of the ACS marketing and promotions. Regular weekly race divisions include the new Pro Late Models, open-wheeled modifieds on the half-mile, plus the fender rubbing, Pure Stocks, and on the Figure 8 track, AC Figure 8s and buses. Traveling race circuits add to the wide variety of racing excitement, says Sharon, including the alcohol-breathing Auto Value Winged Sprint Cars and the popular “Maximum Destruction.” Some notable drivers who have raced at Auto City Speedway are Tony Brabbs, Jay Woolworth and Jack Doering, Jr. who were all inducted into the Michigan Motor Sports Hall of Fame, and Brad Keselowski, a professional stock car racer and team owner. He currently races for NASCAR on Team Penske.
Auto City Speedway isn’t just about racing. “We view ourselves as an entertainment arena,” says Joe DeWitte. Various community events are held at the track. For example, just last month ACS hosted its first annual Redneck Wedding. In collaboration with WFBE FM 95.1, a contest was held and a couple was randomly selected to be married in the first Redneck Wedding. The couple won a gown, tuxedo, flowers, a wedding cake, rings from various sponsors and a two-night stay at Shanty Creek Resort. “We were looking to host some fun events,” Sharon said, “and the Redneck Wedding was a fit for our venue.” The ceremony was held at the race track on June 20.
Last year, the facility was rented to High Times Magazine for an event that drew the largest attendance ever at the race track. Auto City has also hosted car shows, concerts, the annual Fourth of July Fireworks, the Kettering University Firebirds and many business events. Local police departments and the police academy have conducted training and driver certification there. “People just know us as a racetrack,” says Joe,” but we’re more than that. We are truly an outdoor arena.”
It takes about 50 employees to keep the place running for an event or a race. A concession stand offers a variety of food and a full-service bar. While the race track is only open from April to September, both Sharon and Joe work throughout the winter, obtaining sponsors and contracts for racing events. “We are very appreciative of the community support and the local business sponsorships,” Joe says. What both he and Sharon enjoy most about Auto City are the fans. “They are the best in the world!” laughs Joe. “They love racing and they are diehard racing fans.”
Photos by Skip Konkle, Jen Mitchell and Mike Naddeo.