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DATE News (chronologically)
06/04/12
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Damaged race track an image problem for Detroit, to be resurfaced UPDATE
When CART raced at Belle Isle the track was 2.346 miles.  Note the long straight between turns 2 and 3.  Then Tony George came along, thought he had a better idea, shortened the track to a Mickey Mouse 2.07 miles (below) and ruined it all.
Bud Denker, chairman of the Detroit Grand Prix Association, didn't give up under the extraordinary situation, and neither did the drivers. He and workers rebuilt the surface, patched the holes and got the race started again.

Denker, who got soaked by rain and soiled by tar in the construction efforts, said The Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix likely will have a slightly different look next year.

Denker said he wants to lengthen the track, probably to about 2.5 or 2.6 miles, restoring it more to the circuit length of 2001 (he is mistaken - see layout used by CART to the right, it was 2.346-miles in length, and there were other obstacles preventing it from being longer than that).

Denker said he wants to make the straight to Turn 3 longer.

"That would give a great passing zone down the straightaway," Denker said Sunday. "We need more passing zones."

The Grand Prix returned to Belle Isle over the weekend for the first time since 2008. The race took a three-year hiatus because of the economy. The layout for Sunday's face was 14 turns over 2.07 miles.

"Roger Penske does things first-class," said Denker. "We will take a look at this whole thing. We want to extend the racecourse and repair it. We are going to have one of the best racecourses in the world next year."

Belle Isle crumbled to its knees for a time Sunday, but you can't keep a good thing down, and racing on the island is just that.

Dario Franchitti, who finished second, thanked Denker before the post race news conference for his team's persistence in restarting the race.

Dixon took time to shake Denker's hand afterward.

Crews work to repair the track surface
Mark Scheuern/AR1.com
06/04/12
Anywhere else, it's a speed bump. When the race track starts coming apart in Detroit, it's a disaster.

Some cities are naturally confident. Chicago. New York. Dallas. Does anyone in Dallas give a rip what the rest of the country thinks? Get serious, podner.

Here in Detroit, we're always the awkward guy in a singles bar wearing a 3-year-old suit, smiling through our insecurity and trying not to spill our drink: How do you like us so far?

Now comes the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix — an IndyCar race in the Motor City — and the race course is coughing up chunks of asphalt and rubber. On national television. Live. In high definition. zzzz

Murder City, Rust Belt capital, the City That Doesn't Work. And now, the city that tries to put on a major auto race on a track made of Silly Putty.

As these words spill out and I pause occasionally to slam my forehead against the keyboard, the race is on hold and ABC is scrambling to fill air time, sticking microphones in the faces of a bunch of wiry gentlemen in fire suits.

The drivers survive on sponsorships and they're genetically programmed to be positive, but ultimately they have to admit the truth: They've never seen anything like it.

Roger Penske, bless his heart, smiled into the camera and talked about what a great week it's been. His team owns three of the cars, and it was his persistence and clout that brought the race back to Detroit after four years where nobody much missed us.

Naturally, through three days of preliminaries, the highlight clip on heavy rotation on the sports channels showed a car running over a squirrel. Milwaukee has squirrels, too, but when the IndyCars roll through in two weeks, I can guarantee you none of them will be harmed.

Here, we apologize. We always apologize. Sorry about the rodent. Sorry about the front-end damage to your hugely expensive race car. Sorry about the TV ratings.

The mayor of Chicago is, unapologetically, trying to lure a Super Bowl to be played outside in February. Hey, he's saying, we're Chicago. Buy a parka and shut up.

In Detroit, it seemed like a good idea to hold an auto race. For 30-some laps, it was. Now we're apologizing again, because in Detroit, a major event is more than it seems.

It's a referendum, and we feel personally responsible for whatever happens, however ridiculous it is.

Um, sorry, IZOD IndyCars. Really. See you next year, right? Detroit News

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