Council OKs request to bring Grand Prix back to Belle Isle UPDATE
The possibility of the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix returning in 2012 gained momentum Tuesday when City Council unanimously approved a request from race organizers for it to be held on the island June 1-3.
|Justin Wilson won the last IndyCar race at Belle Isle in 2008|
Council president Charles Pugh said he was excited that Mayor Dave Bing apparently had signed off on the request, which could see the IndyCar Series back next summer.
"It is imperative the race be in Detroit, and we felt badly when it was canceled a couple years ago," Pugh said. "We need a positive bump on the city, and one thing Detroit does well is cars. This is exciting, and I'm thrilled City Council is playing a role in restoring the Grand Prix. It feels good."
While the return of the Grand Prix is not a done deal, Bud Denker, event chairman of the race, is optimistic about its chances of revival.
"You start with the landlord, in this case the city, and work from there," said Denker, an executive at Penske Corp. in Bloomfield Hills. "We are now waiting on confirmation of sponsors, but we are confident we'll get this completed."
The IndyCar Series returned to Belle Isle in 2007 after a six-year absence. The Grand Prix was held again in 2008 but canceled in 2009 because of the sagging economy.
IndyCar icon Roger Penske was a prime mover in the race returning to Belle Isle. It is well known he wants the event back -- but only when the city and sponsors feel the time is right.
"There's millions of dollars of impact involved, and the national spotlight would be on Detroit again for positive reasons," said Pugh, who as a boy watched Formula One racing on downtown streets. "Bringing back a world-class event like the Grand Prix to Belle Isle makes sense. We appreciate what Roger Penske and his organization is trying to do here." Detroit Free Press09/20/11 The Detroit City Council cleared the way for a possible return of the Detroit Grand Prix on Belle Isle this afternoon.
The panel unanimously approved a request from racing officials for the event, the first step in bringing it back to Belle Isle. The move sets the stage for the race's return June 1-3.
IndyCar races were held on Belle Isle from 1990-2001 and again in 2007 and 2008. The city also hosted Formula One races downtown in the 1980s.
"We're going through the motions right now, preparing the brickwork to try to bring it back for next summer," Bud Denker, a Penske Corp. executive who was in charge of running the Detroit Grand Prix, said last week. "We don't have a sponsor locked in yet, but we're working on a couple right now. We're hopeful, but nothing is done until we have that (sponsorship) secured."
Roger Penske, the Bloomfield Hills owner of auto racing team Penske Racing, has made no secret of his desire to bring back auto racing to the city. An attempt in 2010 failed, but he hinted last month during a Motorsports Hall of Fame induction ceremony that it might return. Detroit News