Penske Confident Detroit GP Will Not See Repeat Of Last Year's Delays Belle Isle Grand Prix Chair Roger Penske Wednesday "expressed full confidence" that next month’s Izod IndyCar Series doubleheader "won’t have the same ruptured pockets of dilapidated concrete on the course that spawned a 2-hour delay last year and resulted in running only 60 of the 90 laps," according to Drew Sharp of the DETROIT FREE PRESS. Penske and race organizers spent $2M in "private funds on refurbishing the island road course."
Upgrades include "adding another half mile on the straightaway and widening the turns to improve passing in breaking areas." But the "most noticeable improvement was a cleaner, smoother surface." Penske said, "There was nothing patchwork about what we did. It wasn’t a question of filling holes, but in significant stretches on the course, we pulled up the asphalt and actually recemented those areas."
Double-decker hospitality chalets "line part of the track," and new trees, "nursed by a $40,000 underground irrigation system, border the paddock." Corporate sponsorship for the May 31-June 2 race weekend is up 10%. The state-appointed "emergency manager is preparing a 45-day report detailing the depth" of Detroit's financial problems, but the Grand Prix is "pumping scarce resources into refurbishing the neglected Belle Isle grounds and delivering some positive PR in the process." Penske said, "Any excess cash flow we have we're putting right back into the island." He added that organizers have spent "as much as" $18M upgrading infrastructure since racing returned to the island in '07 Detroit News.
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