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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix was successful and here’s why

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I will admit to being both disappointed and skeptical when l learned last year that the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix was bidding farewell to its historic location thus taking on the huge endeavor of staging the race on the downtown streets of the Motor City in the shadow of automotive stalwart General Motors along the Detroit River. After all, as the quintessential creature of habit, l was without question accustomed to the traditions that had served me well and provided some spirited racing.

Sensing that the lady known as Belle Island had served her purpose and looking to leave a mark on the revitalization of the surrounding downtown area, Roger Penske knew the switch was in order and would work. He could not have been more correct as the inaugural event was indeed a smashing success with both the local community and the fans who filed in to experience both three days of superb weather and various disciplines of racing taking to the very challenging street circuit.

Notes: Any event of this magnitude is reliant upon a large contingency of dedicated volunteers and they were out in full force each day in their easy to distinguish outfits making it simple for all in attendance to get information.

Local law enforcement deserves a tremendous amount of credit for not only coordinating traffic in the areas outside the course and the highway exits leading to the event, but for also providing the level of security that’s needed for any event of this magnitude, instilling the commitment to make it a family friendly environment. 

When you couple all that with excellent informational signage throughout the venue, it’s an enjoyable experience.

It’s certainly worth pointing out that the grounds were indeed maintained in an impeccable fashion which in turn always enhances the fan experience. 

There were an army of people continuously working to maintain the cleanliness and they deserve special thanks. 

Penske Corporation President and Chairman of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix Bud Denker deserves a ton of credit for the planning and execution of the event. While his splendid fifteen year run at Belle Island speaks for itself, he and his staff assembled a record eighty-five corporate partners to make this event happen and generate an estimated seventy-seven million dollars in terms of economic impact.

Look for him to raise the bar even more in 2024.

While a number of drivers were critical of the temporary street circuit, they found the degree of difficulty to be tempered a bit when adequate rubber was laid down during practice and the Trans-Am and Indy NXT races. While a race driver is never totally happy, this development was golden.

Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou was the class of the field as he captured the pole for the event and went on to win the race in a dominant fashion. Team Penke’s Will Power kept him honest and brought it home second, while McLaren’s Felix Rosenqvist rounded out the podium.  Kyle Kirkwood who was punted from behind in the early stages and fell to twenty-seventh as a result, completed the drive of the day in my humble opinion when he soldiered back to finish sixth.

The next race on the NTT Indycar Series schedule is June 18th at the famed Road America course at Elkhart Lake. If you can’t make the trek to the beautiful Wisconsin setting, one can watch the action on NBC with coverage starting at Noon Eastern Time. 

Danny Bridges who thought the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix exceeded expectations, can be reached at (317) 370-8447 or at bridgeshd@aol.com

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