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Dec 19, 2015

​Tooele County Commissioner “Incredibly Confident” 2016 Season At Miller Motorsports Park Will Go On As Planned

Racing will go on as planned at Miller Motorsports Park in 2016, according to a Tooele County Commissioner. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

By David Swarts. Copyright 2015, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.

The 2016 racing season at Miller Motorsports Park will go on as planned in spite of Tooele County's sale of the track to a Chinese company being nullified in court on December 17.

“I am incredibly confident we will have a speedy alternative to ensure the next season is not interrupted,” Tooele County Commissioner Shawn Milne exclusively told Roadracingworld.com Friday.

On May 8, 2015, the Larry H. Miller Group of companies announced that after years of losing money with Miller Motorsports Park it would not renew its lease of the 511 acres of land the facility was built on. That effectively turned ownership of the track over to Tooele County, Utah, which immediately opened a search for a new entity to come in and take over operation of the track.

In August, Tooele County announced that it planned to sell the track and the land it sits on to Mitime Investment Group (Mitime), a newly-formed corporation owned by China's Geely Holding Group, which is best known as an automobile manufacturer and a racetrack developer.

Mitime planned to rename the track Utah Motorsports Campus and continue to host professional and amateur racing events as well as riding schools and track days.

Mitime President Alan Wilson, the designer of Miller Motorsports Park and the initial General Manager of the facility during the first three years of its operation, told Roadracingworld.com that the company planned to invest millions to bring the track up to the latest FIM and FIA homologation specifications, to add new racing facilities including a paved oval, to begin manufacturing racing vehicles at the track, and to open a racing education center at the track to train racing officials, engineers and more. Mitime also pledged to promote Utah tourism in China.

Within weeks of Tooele County announcing the sale of Miller Motorsports Group to Mitime, losing bidder Center Point Management filed a lawsuit against Tooele County. In its lawsuit, Center Point Management alleged Tooele County violated its own ordinances by selling public property for less than “full and adequate consideration.”

Mitime’s bid to purchase Miller Motorsports Park was for $20 million, while Center Point Management had bid $22.5 million. Tooele County taxed Miller Motorsports Park based on an assessed value of about $28.1 million in 2012.

The lawsuit was heard in Utah’s 3rd District Court in Tooele, Utah, early in November, and Judge Robert Adkins issued his ruling on the lawsuit from the bench on December 17. Adkins ruled in favor of Center Point Management and voided the sale of Miller Motorsports Park to Mitime. Adkins also voided a temporary lease agreement that Mitime had included in the same bid, as a contingency plan in case the sale ran into any problems.

The deal between Tooele County and Mitime is not dead, however, according to Milne.

“They did void the sale, and they voided the temporary lease as it was part of that contract,” Milne told Roadracingworld.com in a telephone interview December 18. “They did not void any possible future lease whether to one entity or another. We can still pursue that, but he did not like that it was put in that particular contract. So he voided that contract and specifically highlighted he was voiding that [lease] provision in it as well, but he did not preclude us from going through with the lease. So that’s the end result.”

Milne said that while the ruling was “surprising” and “disappointing” the County Commissioners had already contemplated their next step if the lawsuit went against them.

“It is not something that has us frozen in our tracks. We are proceeding forward,” said Milne. “Tooele County will not appeal the decision. We want an expeditious resolution to make sure that this next season continues as planned and that folks who are reliant on their jobs will still have employment. So that is the resolution that Tooele County is seeking. I’m not going to be more specific at this time because that is the crux of our ongoing negotiation.

“I am incredibly confident we will have a speedy alternative to ensure the next season is not interrupted.

“If someone is expecting the season to be in play this coming year, they still ought to remain confident that that is what will happen.”

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