Maryland Int'l Raceway  •  27861 Budds Creek Road  •  Mechanicsville, MD  20659

301-884-9833 (Office)  •  301-884-9878 (Fax)  •

   2017 Hall of Fame


Mike Wills

Mike Wills' service to MIR started 26 years ago, in June 1991. He started as a security guard working for Dave Byers. Mike says he had just lost his job so the timing was perfect! The following year Joe Vestraci was hiring EMTs. Joe told Mike he would hire him if he cut his hair, so Mike got a trim and got the job! Back in those days, the crew just had one old blue and white Ford van ambulance and a golf cart, plus about six fire extinguishers. Given that MIR was running some of the fastest cars in the sport, the team really had to hustle! Royce, Joe, and Mike continued to up their game year after year, continually adding to the safety equipment and team. Joe Vestraci retired 10 years ago and Mike took over operations and continued the incredible growth in the MDIR safety team. Since then, Mike has been at MDIR for almost every race. He came to work no matter what! Sometimes he was sick as a dog but he still came. One time, he had a hernia but he still came. On another occasion, Mike required the services of his own team as he passed out in the staging lanes! Mike's dedication is such that one year he worked 91 out of 109 race days. Through Mike's efforts and partnering with Royce, there are now 12 top notch professionals on the MDIR safety team. But Mike still comes in on almost every race day to answer questions and ensure the team has everything they need. Mike built the team with the highest standards. Most of the team are from local volunteer fire departments and were hired only after Mike conducted rigorous interviews with the fire chiefs. He wanted to ensure that the MDIR crew consisted of the real go-getters who would be dependable, would support their partners, and would run into danger to save another. In addition to preparing for any on-track incident, Mike and the safety team also serve MDIR fans racers, staff, and fans by treating allergic reactions, heat exhaustion, burns, dehydration, and other issues. Mike says that luckily, racing accidents are usually the least of their issues because the cars are built so well these days. Mike has retired once but was pressed back into service this year. He says that he is not leaving by any stretch of the imagination but would like to step away from the leadership role. Mike is getting the team ready to take over this job, but it will be difficult to find someone as dedicated. In addition to his service at MDIR, Mike has been a volunteer firefighter for 38 years. He started at Potomac Heights VFD when he was 15! Mike followed in some big footsteps -- his dad was the very first EMT in the state of Maryland and has been active for 62 years. Mike Wills has partnered with Royce to take MDIR from an ambulance and six fire extinguishers to two ambulances, two fire trucks, 150 fire extinguishers and two Hurst jaws of life tools. But he is quick to share the credit, "My staff makes me look good. They are real professionals. And this job is about the racers and the sport. We are certainly not there for the money. I never set foot on this property until I came to work here, but Royce and LInda always treated me like family!" Mike Wills IS a major part of the MDIR family and like a trusted family member, he has been looking out for all of us and our safety for more than a quarter century! Thanks and congratulations to Mike Willis, a true Legend of Budds Creek!



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