By Nancy Knapp Schilke
When many of us in the racing community first met Larry H. Miller, it was at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah. The new race track with multiple layouts is located on the desert with amazing views of the surrounding mountains. Miller was the force behind the formation of the longest road course in North America at 4.5 miles which opened in 2006. The circuit, designed by Alan Wilson and staff, became one of the finest facilities in the world; a benchmark for others to follow.
It is with sad news that the staff at Motorsport.com reports that Miller passed away today at the age of 64. Miller had type 2 diabetes. His wife Karen Gail Miller, along with other family members were by his side today, February 20, 2009.
The success of Miller Motorsport Park was noted by the series which jumped on board to have an event at the venue: Grand-Am Rolex Series and Koni Challenge, AMA Superbike Championship, American Le Mans Series, Ford Racing Mustang Challenge for the Miller Cup, FIM World Superbike Championship, SCCA Pro Racing's World Challenge and SCCA-sanctioned series Mazda MX-5 Cup.
The facility had its own racing school, a go-kart track and more recently an off-road venue. In September of 2008, Wilson stepped down as CEO and general manager of Miller Motorsport Park to pursue his own interest in a new partnership to build race tracks. The former Director of Ford Racing Technology, Dan Davis, was named COO and president.
Miller and his staff were pleased to bring the World Superbikes back to the United States last year. The success of hosting the FIM event was awarded to Miller Motorsports Park by the organizers, FGS Sport, when they were honored with the 2008 Organizer Award. Quite an accomplishment for a first time venue.
"It is an honor for Miller Motorsports Park to have been named the recipient of this prestigious award. It certainly reflects well on our management and staff, who worked very diligently and conscientiously to ensure that our FIM Superbike World Championship event was successful," said Greg Miller, Larry H. Miller Group of Companies CEO.
Miller was more than a racing venue owner, he was one of Utah's most successful entrepreneur. Born on April 26, 1944, in Salt Lake City, Miller leaves a legacy that would be nearly impossible for anyone else to come close to achieving. He never hesitated to greet those he saw or met, taking time to smile, shake hands or chat for a bit. It is not a surprise to discover the many companies he founded and/or owned.
Miller was also a philanthropist, giving back to the community that he was proud to be a part of. He truly was an advocate of Utah -- both for those who were in need and the land. His first company was a car dealership which he opened on May 1, 1979 and he went on to own over 80 companies including the NBA's Utah Jazz.
Miller and his wife provided college scholarships each year and founded the Larry H. Miller Charities. "Go about doing good until there is too much good in the world", a phrase coined by Miller.
"Larry and Gail have always stressed the importance of giving back to the communities in which we do business. Our customers have supported us and it is important that we show our appreciation by helping those in need. Larry felt that his legacy isn't in business as much as it was in creating opportunities for good jobs and higher education." said eldest son Greg Miller.
Despite all of his success, Miller always maintained that his greatest accomplishment is the family that survives him: his wife, Karen Gail Saxton Miller, their four sons and one daughter, 21 grandchildren, and one great grandchild.
Miller is survived by his wife, Karen Gail Saxton Miller, four sons and one daughter and 21 grandchildren and one great grandchild.
The memorial services for Miller will be announced at a later date.
Motorsport.com extends its sympathy to the family, employees and friends of Larry Miller.