Indy 500, Indy Racing League Donate $50,000 to Penske's race
Though IndyCar Series fans were sad to see the annual pit stop competition during Indianapolis 500 weekend washed away by rain, the cancellation turned a negative into a tremendous positive for Detroit as it resulted in a generous $50,000 donation for continued maintenance and improvements at Belle Isle Park.
As the Indy 500 teams, sponsors and members of the media gathered to honor driver Scott Dixon and Target Chip Ganassi Racing for their victory at the Indianapolis 500 Victory Celebration on May 26, it was announced that the total purse from the canceled 2008 McDonald's Pit Stop Challenge, scheduled for May 23, would be split among two worthy charities.
When the merger between the IndyCar Series and the Champ Car World Series was announced in February, longtime team owners Roger Penske and Paul Newman wrote a personal letter to Indianapolis 500 ticket holders inviting them back to the event this May. Demonstrating his thanks to these pioneers of racing, Indy Racing League Founder and Indianapolis Motor Speedway Chief Executive Officer Tony George offered to split the $100,000 pit stop competition purse between two charitable organizations close to the heart of each team owner. Belle Isle was identified as a beneficiary of the donation as Penske helped bring Grand Prix auto racing back to Detroit in 2007 on the Belle Isle street circuit, and he remains dedicated to the preservation of the public island park located on the Detroit River. The 2008 Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix will be held Aug. 29-31.
"On behalf of the Grand Prix, the City of Detroit and the Belle Isle Women’s Committee, we want to thank Tony George, the Hulman-George family and everyone at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for this generous donation," said Bud Denker, Event Chairman of the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. "Hundreds of thousands of people enjoy Belle Isle every year, and this donation will certainly help with the continued maintenance and enhancement projects at this beautiful island park."
The Belle Isle Women’s Committee is dedicated to the restoration and preservation of Belle Isle. Working in conjunction with the City of Detroit, Friends of Belle Isle and Belle Isle Botanical Society, the Belle Isle Women’s Committee endeavors to return the island to its original glory.
"The Belle Isle Women’s Committee thanks Mr. George and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for this most unexpected gift," said Sarah Earley, President of the Belle Isle Women’s Committee. "We were so excited to host the IndyCar Series and the Grand Prix in its return to Belle Isle last year, and we’re looking forward to another great event this year. This generous donation will certainly help our efforts to preserve and maintain Belle Isle Park."
Founded by Paul Newman, the legendary award-winning actor, Hole in the Wall Camps also received a $50,000 donation from the Indy Racing League and the Indianapolis 500. The family of Hole in the Wall Camps are places where children living with serious illnesses and life-threatening conditions can rediscover the joys of childhood. Campers who have been isolated by their treatments or too sick to participate in ordinary childhood activities have the opportunity to engage in all sorts of fun at the camps.
"Belle Isle is a beautiful place for an IndyCar Series race, and the Hulman-George family, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indy Racing League are happy to contribute to keeping it a wonderful place for Detroit-area residents to enjoy throughout the year," said Terry Angstadt, Indy Racing League President, Commercial Division. "The Hole in the Wall Camps also are a very worthy recipient of this donation, as they provide hope and happiness for children with serious illnesses. We're pleased to help both entities."
[Editor's Note: Since Roger Penske is a Billionaire, and could have donated millions of dollars to these causes and not even blinked an eye, it's sad to see that he did not offer to match these donations since half the money is going to help the Detroit race he brought back.]