Through good times or even tragedy, camping at MIS brings friends and family closer together

Whether it is the strengthening of a family bond, or friendships coming together to pay tribute to a fallen member of their community, camping at Michigan International Speedway isn’t just about the racing, but about the relationships that are made along the way.

Every June and August, race weekends at MIS bring out thousands of campers who enjoy a weekend (or sometimes week) of spending time with family and friends in the great outdoors of the Irish Hills of Michigan.

In the case of Diane Stauder and her husband William, of Huron, Ohio, the memories and relationships they have made by camping at the Irish Hills speedway is something they cherish very much. The Stauder’s have been camping and attending races at MIS for nearly 30 years, eventually bringing their children and grandchildren into the fold in what is now truly a family vacation for them every year.

“Camping at MIS has given us so many memories over the years,” Diane Stauder said. “Each campground has a unique experience and different atmosphere. We have been camping in the Brooklyn Trails Campground for many years and now with our son and daughter coming with us and bringing the grandkids along, it really is a family event for us. Racing has been a part of our lives for a long time and we look forward to camping at MIS every year.”

It is these memories and relationships that make camping what it is at MIS – a vacation away from home with family and friends that gives lasting memories for each person every time they visit. It is a mission that MIS strives to accomplish for its camping guests as well.

“Our goal is to give our campers wonderful memories with their family and friends that they will cherish for a lifetime,” track President Roger Curtis said. “Whether you want to have a party in the infield with your friends or vacation in one of our family campgrounds, we have something for everyone here at MIS.”

Diane Stauder agrees.

“We started out camping at the races so many years ago. It’s funny because we started out with just a tent all those years ago, then upgraded to a pop-up trailer, then a mid-size RV. Now we’ve graduated to a full-size RV and have the kids and grandkids come with us. It truly is a family affair with something for everyone. The camping experience at MIS is like none other,” she said.

Camping at MIS isn’t just about families, but also about the friendships that many campers at the speedway have created while attending the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekends. For many, those friendships are maintained throughout the entire calendar year with the expectation that they see each other twice a year on race weekends at MIS.

“We’ve made so many friends camping at MIS,” Diane continued. “We’ve camped next to friends of ours from Canada for a long time and look forward to seeing them every year. It’s like a reunion every summer. We also have friends who live in the same Huron/Sandusky area of Ohio who come up to the track as well. We never get to spend a great deal of time with them during the year here, so taking time to make memories with them at MIS is something we look forward to.”

With the Stauder’s maintaining close ties with their family and friends at the racetrack and at home, news travels fast among their group, whether it positive or tragic. Another camping family the Stauder’s know from Sandusky suffered a personal tragedy back on March 19, 2011, when the family’s son, a police officer, was tragically killed in the Sandusky, Ohio area while in the line of duty. It was the first time a Sandusky police officer had been killed while on duty in more than a century and the first by gunfire.

The officer, Andrew Dunn, camped at MIS in August with his family on several occasions, including with his father and fellow police officer Matthew Dunn, who has been a ticketholder and camper at the speedway for many years and serves on the track’s Fan Advisory Board.

Matthew Dunn still plans on attending the August race at MIS this season if for nothing more than to continue a tradition he, his son and other family members and friends have done for years.

“Andrew had been attending races at MIS with me since he was 11 years old and we’re going to camp at this year’s August race to honor him and carry on the traditions that my family, and Andrew, have built over the years in the Irish Hills of Michigan. He was a big race fan and a wonderful son. We miss him dearly,” Matthew Dunn said.

The Stauder’s and others who know the family well and camp with them at MIS are planning a get together during the August race weekend to pay tribute to one of Sandusky’s fallen heroes and a friend to many in the Brooklyn Trails Campground.

“It was a very tragic and well publicized story in our area,” Diane said. “I know there is about 40-50 people from our area who camp at MIS for the races and we all know each other pretty well. He was so young at 30 years old and was a race fan who love going to MIS. We want to all come together during the August race weekend and pay tribute to this family’s son.”

It is the bonding of a camping group like this one that brings fans together for just a few days a year at MIS, to not only enjoy themselves, but also help each other through tragic moments as well.

“We are a close knit group,” Diane said. “We look forward to not only seeing our friends this summer, but to also come together for remembrance of this family’s son. We can’t wait to get there.”

With campsites still available for the 2011 season at MIS, there are still opportunities for fans to take advantage of great prices on camping at MIS and make their own memories.

“I remember many years ago, we would have the kids go out and collect cans to save up enough money from the deposits to make our camping trip to MIS. Even today, the prices are still affordable, especially since you get the campsite for the entire weekend or race week if you choose to,” Diane said.

MI Speedway PR