Often called the most competitive road course in the United States, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is a permanent road circuit set in the rolling hills of Lexington, Ohio. Located nearly equidistant from Cleveland and Columbus, near Mansfield, the grounds have been said to look country club than racetrack in deference to its lush green grass, beautiful trees and exceptional amenities. With two challenging track configurations – 2.25-mile, 13 turns and 2.4-mile, 15 turns – the circuit has earned its reputation over fifty years of great racing among many of motorsport’s legendary competitors.
Built in 1962 by Les Griebling as a location for weekend sports car racing, the track was purchased in 1981 by the late Jim Trueman, founder of Red Roof Inns. Under his direction, the track underwent major renovations, including the addition of grandstand seats and amphitheater-style seating, garages, several buildings such as the iconic Goodyear Tower and a redesigned paddock area.
Trueman’s wife Barbara and daughter Michelle undertook management of the facility in 1986, continuing track improvements throughout the decade with the resurfacing and widening of the entire course, as well as the addition of safety enhancements such as tire, guardrail, sand and cement barriers, spectator and debris fencing, and gravel runoff areas. Further improvements implemented included the expansion of the Honda Communications Building and construction of the Goodyear Bridge.
In 1989, Michelle Trueman Gajoch was named president of the facility and oversaw all day-to-day operations of the circuit until 2011. It was then, when Kim Green and Kevin Savoree, principals of Green Savoree Racing Promotions, purchased Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and The Mid-Ohio School through wholly owned subsidiary Green Savoree Mid-Ohio, LLC. The pair has worked together since 1993 as team owners in CART and the Verizon IndyCar Series, winning four championships and three Indianapolis 500s. They also own and promote two street races on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule, Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and Honda Indy Toronto.
In keeping with its reputation as ‘the most competitive road course in the United States’, the track underwent extensive capital improvements during the 2006 off-season. The track and pit lane were completely resurfaced and connectors were added in the track’s famed Keyhole section to allow for three separate road course configurations.
The racetrack operates from March through November each year. During those months, it plays host to four race weekends open to the public and hundreds of days each year are filled with smaller events. Some of these include car club races, test days and driving and riding programs through The Mid-Ohio School.
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and The Mid-Ohio School operate year round in Lexington, Ohio. Marketing, sales, promotions, PR, accounting, operations, safety, tickets and hospitality are all coordinated at the track.
TIMELINE & MAJOR EVENTS
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is opened by Les Griebling; the first event to take place is a driving school. The track’s first race weekend is sanctioned by the SCCA.
The entire track is resurfaced.
Johnny Rutherford wins the first Championship Car race held at Mid-Ohio, piloting his Chaparral-Cosworth to the win at an average race speed of 86.60 mph on the track’s 2.4-mile, 15-turn configuration.
TrueSports, Inc. purchases Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and invests millions into the facility; and National Speed Sport News founder Chris Economacki calls Mid-Ohio “the showcase of U.S. motor racing.”
After a brief hiatus, Championship Car racing returns to Mid-Ohio; AMA Pro Road Racing debuts at Mid-Ohio as Steve Wise rides a Honda to the win in the first SuperBike race in Lexington; the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association makes its first trip to the track; amphitheaters are built around several turns; and a scoreboard, the Goodyear Tower and three garage buildings totaling 28 stalls are built.
A concession stand and picnic area is built in the Lower Paddock.
An infield concession stand and the Mid-Ohio deck is built along with more amphitheaters and a tunnel connecting the infield to the grandstands.
The track adds a pair of buildings to house maintenance and food service needs.
The Middle Paddock’s Continental Motorsports building goes up; pit lane is widened by 13 feet and lengthened by 250 feet; concrete barriers and tire walls are added around much of track; and runoff areas are redesigned for safety.
Michelle Trueman Gajoch is named president of Mid-Ohio.
The track is again 100 percent resurfaced after being widened to 40 feet; a chicane/straight option is added prior to the Keyhole, giving the track it’s 2.258-mile, 13-turn configuration.
A starter’s stand is constructed on The Back Straight.
The Mid-Ohio School is established and the School building goes up in the Lower Paddock.
The paddock is repaved; 1,500 feet of fencing is added in The Esses.
AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days moves to Mid-Ohio.
The Goodyear Bridge is upgraded to include two lanes and pedestrian paths; and the Guest Services building is erected at Gate 3.
The Timing & Scoring building is expanded; thousands of feet of fencing is added around several parts of the track and facility; permanent roofs were added to the garage balconies; and lampposts were added at the main gates.
6,000 feet of fencing is added around the track; the infield patio is built; Championship Row is leveled and resealed; and a storage building goes up behind the Commissary.
GRAND-AM Road Racing completes its first race at Mid-Ohio. Jack Baldwin and George Robinson’s Judd Riley & Scott earns the win at an average speed of 83.05 mph; most of the Upper and Middle Paddocks is repaved; and a TV compound is built behind the Timing & Scoring building.
American Le Mans Series makes its debut at Mid-Ohio as David Brabham and Jan Magnussen combine for the overall win, reaching an average speed of 94.84 mph in their Elan Panoz.
A road to Gate 2 is paved; and 4,500 feet of fencing is added around the track.
Upgraded phone systems and high-speed internet is installed throughout the facility.
The entire track and pit lane are repaved; Turn One is redesigned; Mid-Ohio opens a Motocross Park; the NASA Championships are founded at Mid-Ohio; and The Mid-Ohio School adds motorcycle riding programs.
The IndyCar Series makes its first appearance in Lexington on a co-headlined American Le Mans Series weekend; Scott Dixon earns his first of three wins on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn circuit in a Honda Dallara with an average speed of 107.22 mph; and a new Daktronics display replaces the original scoreboard.
Pit lane wall is entirely rebuilt; camping areas are numbered and updated to include more dumping stations; and the motocross park is closed at the end of the year and converted into parking.
Scott Dixon wins his second Honda Indy 200 and captures the all time IndyCar Series wins record with his 20th
victory; and Gil de Ferran announces his intent to retire at a press conference at Mid-Ohio after winning the American Le Mans Series pole (and later the race).
Mid-Ohio celebrates its historic 50th
season; the track and school were purchased by Kim Green and Kevin Savoree, just the third owners in the track’s history; Craig Rust is named president; NASA Championships return to the schedule; and pit lane wall was lowered by four inches.
The NASCAR Nationwide Series comes to Ohio as Mid-Ohio hosts the inaugural Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 as part of a partnership with Nationwide Insurance and Nationwide Children’s Hospital; Diamond Cellar titles the GRAND-AM Road Racing event, now called the Diamond Cellar Classic.