Detroit track will be upgraded
Bud Denker had no way of knowing the Belle Isle track would fall apart before Sunday's running of the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix.
After all, four races went flawlessly, as did numerous practice and qualifying sessions.
But after 45 laps, that's just what happened.
"I never spread concrete in my life, but I learned how," Denker said after the race, which ended after 60 laps with a 15-lap shootout that Scott Dixon won.
Denker, the event's chairman, was among the people making repairs to the track, which had to be repaved after the old concrete, as much as 20 years old, broke in different areas on the 14-turn, 2.07-mile temporary street course. The race was delayed two hours.
Some potholes 4-5 inches wide and 6 inches deep appeared. James Hinchcliffe's car was sent into a tire safety barrier after hitting a piece of the fracturing track in Turn 6.
"It was very important to have a conclusion," Denker said. "We were not going to give up. If we had stopped the race at that point and not given it our best effort, we would have been quitters and made a lot of people disappointed."
It's not the first time a track has fallen apart.
Two years ago, the Daytona 500 was delayed by two hours because of potholes.
So, what does Denker plan to do to make sure there are no track issues for next season's race?
"We have to study it and evaluate it," he said. "The good news is the guy I had out here who is doing the filling and patching is the same guy that did the NASCAR track, Bob Harrington."
Harrington, a consultant for construction and maintenance of tracks, has worked on more than 23 NASCAR and IndyCar tracks around the world.
Sammie Lukaskiewicz, senior director of communications for Michigan International Speedway, said Harrington is the man to get the job done.
"He's pretty remarkable," Lukaskiewicz said. "He was a consultant for our company (International Speedway Corporation) on our repave (in October) and worked on the job at Daytona. He worked on our repave the last time we had it in '95, too."
Lukaskiewicz said Harrington was on hand when several NASCAR drivers were at MIS for a tire test session in April. The Sprint Cup series makes its stop at MIS from June 15-17.
Denker, however, doesn't believe a total repave for the Belle Isle track is needed.
"We've recently repaved some areas," he said. "The issues are in Turns 10 and 11 and 5, 6 and 7." Detroit News