After two long years, the reopening of the border allows Canadian racing fans to return to MIS

Brooklyn, Michigan – After two long years, Canadians are back on the Michigan International Highway, and they are being welcomed back with open arms.

MIS is located 70 miles from the border and is the closest NASCAR Cup Series track to many Canadian fans. In 2020 and 2021, the US closed its borders due to COVID-19, preventing Canadian fans from camping and seeing the races.

No fans attended the 2020 races, which have been closed to spectators due to the pandemic.

Related (from 2021): ‘Canadians know how to party’: MIS racing fans mourned the absence of their northern neighbors

However, the Canadians are back on the track in 2022 and ready to race the Firekeepers Casino 400 this weekend. This includes Toronto resident George Kleinsteiner, who is willing to be around food, people and just the NASCAR community in general, he said.

“It was a problem that didn’t come down because we just enjoy cooking outside, we’re three guys, having a good time here,” Kleinsteiner said. “We meet a lot of people.”

Kleinsteiner and his son and sister-in-law have attended the races every year for 13 years, until the last two years. They felt welcome back with open arms from NASCAR. While the neighbors to the north have missed the last two years of racing, MIS has given Canadians who were unable to use their tickets credit for this year’s event, Kleinsteiner said.

“NASCAR has been great at letting us keep our spot and tickets and all that. We didn’t lose a penny on anything,” Kleinsteiner said.

A 2014 University of Michigan Economic Impact Study found that Canadians make up 12% of general admission tickets and 19% of campgrounds. In 2013, an estimated 10,000 Canadian fans came to MIS Race Weekend, according to the Toronto Sun. Former track head Roger Curtis told the Windsor Star in 2014 that 20% of their audience has been Canadian in some years.

From just a glimpse at the stadium, it’s clear they’re back in 2022, with campers showing off their pride with Canadian flags, tents and more.

Brian Hartmann, from near Toronto, came with a group of his neighbors to race for about five years.

“You watch it on TV and you see it on the screen and you say, ‘That’s the normal place we’d be,'” Hartmann said.

The band returned to their old spot this year.

“Everyone is very friendly,” Hartmann said.

Aside from the food, beer and people, they were of course excited to see the races in person again. Each group has its favorite driver, James Meacham said, including Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin.

But overall, they’re just excited to see which tires hit the track, he said.

“Being Canadian, we have to support everyone, right?” Mesham said.

Renee and Julie Erskine, of Ontario, said watching the races on TV doesn’t feel the same as being there in person.

“There are sounds and smells that don’t appear on TV,” Julie said.

They said Canadian residents, even missing for two years, feel at home.

“It’s good to be back,” Rene said. “It’s as if we haven’t missed even a moment.”

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For an updated list of stories from MIS this weekend for this NASCAR race, visit: click here.

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