A TRIBUTE TO LARRY MILLER
From Alan Wilson - on behalf of all those who have worked at, visited and enjoyed Miller Motorsports Park
"Thank you." Two words that have become a continual refrain since Miller Motorsports Park opened on April 1, 2006, and which can still be heard almost every day at "Larry's track."
Larry built MMP to be a place where he and everyone else could revel in their enthusiasm for the cars and sport he loved. He built it for everyone to enjoy, and he built it the way he did everything else ... properly.
Of course, as everyone now knows, his dream started small and ended up big, but then so many of his other dreams had the same ending. He bought the Jazz to save the team from leaving Utah and it ended up a basketball powerhouse. He built his first dealership into a chain that ranks amongst the nation's biggest and best-managed. He built a legacy that will endure forever in the hearts of those who shared in his dreams, his largesse and his humility.
He built Miller Motorsports Park into the best race facility in America and one of the most respected in the world.
But he never enjoyed it as much as he should have.
When the track first opened, Larry was everywhere. He enjoyed mixing with his business friends during corporate events; he mingled with spectators on the viewing banks during big events, and he stood at pit wall with the pros while they practiced and learned the track.
We, the management and staff, enjoyed watching Larry enjoy his dream.
Then reality bit.
The track became a business framed within a company structure developed over years to run his ever-expanding group. As a business, MMP became ever more structured; more driven by budgetary realities and more subject to management oversight; and Miller Motorsports Park turned, necessarily, from a fun idea into a business that lived by the amount of track activity it could sell. While the developing business now served many, many people, so it also became a place where Larry himself had less track access, could play less often and visited less.
While we grew, so did his other businesses, and they absorbed more of his time; as a result, those of us at MMP began to see him less and less.
And we missed him.
We wanted him to drop by, and we listened to our radios, wanting to but all too seldom hearing the call, "Larry's here."
And we missed him more.
I missed him especially, because I could see, as MMP matured, just how much his original dream was now coming true. I was there, when he wasn't, to receive the comments, plaudits and heartfelt thanks of the visitors, the drivers, the fans, the mechanics, the fathers watching their kids race karts, the school pupils, the club members, the corner workers and the staff, all of whom, over and over again, would ask, "Where's Larry?" and who would then ask me to pass on to him their thanks for bringing their dreams to life.
I know that Larry watched from the sidelines during many of the key moments in the development of Miller Motorsports Park. Especially during the ALMS race weekends and the World Superbike event, with MMP's first really good crowd. But I don't know that Larry ever really saw how his dream to provide a place that anyone and everyone could enjoy was becoming reality.
Did he see how families enjoyed their overnight stays in their RVs, when future kart stars played like the kids they are the night before they put on their race faces to drive so seriously for their first win? Did he see the exhilaration on the faces of the passengers taking part in the "sim" races in his beloved white-with-blue-stripes Mustangs? Did he witness the amazement of the fans as they walked through his car collection in the museum, the very center of his love for MMP? Did he hear his customers praise the food in the Ace Cafe and Clubhouse as they compared it to foods at other tracks? Did he listen to the riders who constantly wanted to thank him for providing a safe place to race? Did he hear the pros praise his pit garages and the ease and comfort with which they could run their teams?
Maybe he did, but he also missed so much more, and, just when it seemed that he may finally have the time to relax, enjoy and play, so his time on Earth ran out.
But now time no longer matters and, Larry, you can now sit back and finally enjoy the dream you created.
You now have the best seat in the house and you can now see the faces and hear the voices of all your friends, and that includes all those who you never met, and you can hear them all say:
"Thank you, Larry."
God bless you.