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Tooele • Miller Motorsports Park has a new owner.
Tooele County commissioners announced at a regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday night that the auto racetrack has been sold to the Chinese-based Mitime Investment and Development Group for $20 million.
The county inherited the track last spring, when the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies did not renew its lease on the 511-acre site in the Tooele Valley.
The new owners of the world-renowned road course and its support facilities is a subsidiary of Geely Group of Companies, the largest independent automotive company in China.
Tooele County Commissioner Shawn Milne led the effort to find a new owner for Miller Motorsports Park.
In a statement he read to a standing-room-only crowd, Milne said, "The commission recognized early on that we cannot afford to have the facility close."
Racing operations at Miller Motorsports Park will continue, according to track designer and former general manager Alan Wilson, who helped broker the sale with Mitime.
Wilson said Miller Motorsports Park will serve as a campus for drivers, mechanics and track personnel who work for Geely or aspire to work in China's emerging automotive racing industry.
"This is the ideal place for us to train people," said Wilson.
Along with operating the track, plans for the new Miller Motorsports Park include a hotel-like residence for those being mentored in Utah, as well as an oval test track and a drag strip.
The track currently has 90 employees, many of whom attended the county commission meeting. In addition, hundreds work in satellite business related to an up-and-running MMP.
According to Wilson, the new owners have no plans to cut jobs.
"We intend to keep Miller Motorsports Park as you know it, operating at or above the level it is today," Wilson said.
When the commissioners opened the meeting for questions from the public, they were asked whether Mitime submitted the highest "bid" from what Milne previously described as "multiple suitors."
Although the question was not directly answered, commissioner Wade Bitner noted the county accepted "proposals, not bids."
One study cited by the county commission estimated the impact of the new deal on the local economy at $1 billion over the next 25 years.
"From the beginning," Milne said, "we have viewed a new owner with passion for racing and a long-term vision of continued investment as the best possible outcome. … That has remained our driving force during consideration of these proposals."
Miller Motorsports Park opened in 2006 as the dream of Larry H. Miller. Miller died in 2009, and in May, the LHM Group of Companies announced it was getting out of the racetrack business.
"On behalf of my family," Gail Miller said at the time, "I would like to thank all of those who have supported the track over the years, both locally and worldwide, for their enthusiasm and use of the facility."
From the start, Miller Motorsports struggled financially, even though it received critical acclaim as one of the best road courses in the world.
"We want to make the business work better," Wilson said. "… But this is the friendliest race track in North America. Anyone will tell you that, and we want to build on that."