Detroit GP to be revived? UPDATE #2
No one loves open wheel racing or the city of Detroit more than Roger Penske, a big reason he's trying to bring an IndyCar series race back to Belle Isle next summer.
|The last time the IRL visited Belle Isle Justin Wilson won for the Newman/Haas team. The race, like all those before lost money. Can the IRL be successful this time?|
So, what are the chances? Well, it's 50-50 and the answer will be known at the end of next month.
Penske attended the Motorsports Hall of Fame induction ceremony Wednesday night at the Fillmore. Donnie Allison (stock cars), Sid Collins (at large), Roger McCluskey (open wheel), Augie Pabst (sports car), Ed "Ace" McCulloch (drag racing), Bruce Penhall (motorcycles) and Ed Winfield (historic) were all inducted.
Penske took a few minutes before the ceremony got under way to talk about the chances for an IndyCar series event at Belle Isle in 2012. IndyCar races were held at the site from 1990-2001, then again in 2007 and 2008. The IndyCar series stopped racing at Michigan International Speedway after the 2007 race, leaving the state without an open wheel race the last three years.
"As I've told many people over the last couple of years that we're waiting for the right time," Penske said. "As we see, the economy is turning, certainly Detroit is in a much better shape and we've had conversations with some sponsors and people who are interested to bring the race back and I would assume that if it's possible we'd like to bring it back next year."
Bud Denker was at the event with Penske. He works for the Penske Corporation and was the man in charge of putting on the Detroit Grand Prix in 2007 and 2008. He is working with his boss to bring it back.
"To have something for next year we'll have to know in the next month or so," Denker said. "We're still working on it. We'd love to bring it back to the city. The city needs this kind of event.
"I think we're 50-50 (for next year). We'll see. We want to bring it back. It's a good possibility of it coming back. It's a matter of having the right sponsors engaged. We're talking now and we'll talk during the next few weeks. I'd say we're hopeful." Detroit News06/27/10 Open-wheel racing could very well return to Detroit in 2012. Randy Bernard, the CEO of the Izod IndyCar series, said he visited Detroit last week to tour Belle Isle, which hosted IndyCar racing on its semi-permanent Belle Isle track until the event was canceled before the 2009 race for economic reasons.
"What a beautiful little island," Bernard said Sunday morning at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where the IndyCar series announced it will return to race next year. "There is interest (in Detroit)."
Bloomfield Hills-businessman Roger Penske backed the Detroit race and repeatedly has said he wants to see it return to Belle Isle. Bud Denker, senior vice president of Penske Corp., was the chairman of the event and likely would continue in that role.
"We need a race in Detroit," said Penske, who owns teams in the IndyCar and NASCAR series. The IndyCar series currently is powered by Honda.
Penske has had several discussions with Bernard about returning to Detroit, and while 2011 was the original target for Penske to revive the race, Bernard said Sunday that 2012 appears to be a more reasonable option.
"There's some intrigue there, because some of the auto manufacturers are very interested in seeing us back in Detroit and of course Roger Penske is very interested in seeing us back there, so if we can accommodate all of those, I think that it makes great sense for us to be there," Bernard said.
"I'm receptive of where it's going to showcase our sport in the very best places, and what's going to grow our sport. When you have all your auto manufacturers located in Detroit and you're car racing, I think it makes great sense to try to accommodate those folks even though they're not involved in the series right now. I think it's a step."
Michigan used to host two open-wheel races a year, in Detroit and at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. The IndyCar series left MIS after the 2007 season.
MIS president Roger Curtis, whose track hosts two NASCAR weekends each summer, said recently that he has inquired about having an IndyCar race at the high-speed two-mile oval, but said it seems unlikely the series will return.
"It depends how much interest we have from our fans there," Bernard said of returning to MIS. "That's a very important question to ask in that process. I don't think you'd see (Belle Isle and MIS) in the same year I think you'd see one or the other and see the level of interest and hopefully we could grow upon that." Detroit News09/09/09 The Detroit Grand Prix at Belle Isle will be off the IndyCar Series schedule for the second consecutive year in 2010, but the race's infrastructure remains in place to reactivate the event, according to DGP chairman Bud Denker. The right economic climate, however, is critical.
“We've got all these assets that we bought--from the barrier walls to the fencing to the infrastructure, it's all sitting in our downtown warehouse, and there's depreciation,” Denker told AutoWeek. “We invested more than $6 million on Belle Isle, and that investment is still there. Roads, the drainage, the lighting, the landscaping, the casino, the fountain. It was a total retrofit. We contributed to have the event there for years and years.”