Detroit GP to get doubleheader, longer track

If Bud Denker has his way, that’s what will happen at next year’s Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix.

Randy Bernard, CEO of the IZOD Indy Car Series, has let it be known that they are considering doubleheader races for some stops next season and if he gets the go-ahead, Denker, chairman of the Belle Isle, wants to be in on the ground floor.

“I’ve raised my hand," Denker said. “I’ve told Randy Bernard that we want to be one of those locations. I said I’d love to have a doubleheader where we have an IndyCar race on Saturday and an IndyCar race on Sunday. That’s what I’m hoping for."

IndyCar is contemplating two or three doubleheader events next season, pending approval from team owners and television networks. The hope is that back-to-back races will increase television viewership.

Bernard has indicated if these twinbills are approved, they will be held on road-course circuits like the Belle Isle track.

Denker already has a plan in mind if Belle Isle gets approved for a doubleheader.

“We can have a Grand-Am race in the late afternoon Saturday and an IndyCar race in the early afternoon, and then an IndyCar race on Sunday afternoon," Denker said.

“Our problem for attendance was never Friday and was never Sunday, it was always Saturday. So this would give me the ability to bring people down here on Saturdays. Randy’s pushing for it and so are we. We’ve just got to get the TV people on board. I’m all in favour of it. I’ve already submitted a request to ABC and we’ll see what they come back with."

Denker was at the track site Monday as work began to repave the areas from turns five-12 where patches in the concrete pulled up during this year’s race, causing a lengthy delay in the event while repairs were undertaken.

Roger Penske, backer of the race, is footing the majority of the $1 million repair costs, along with a few private investors. No city or state money is involved.

“Roger took about three seconds to make the decision when I approached him," Denker said. “The city and the state are debating over which holds responsibility for the track and we just can’t wait.

“We committed after the problems we had with the June 3 race that we would fix the problems with the Belle Isle raceway. Beginning today, we’ll be fixing all the areas that had problems and a few other areas as well.

Crews will also fix the storm sewer system underneath the track and install eight new handicap-accessible sidewalks.

The repairs should take between 8-12 weeks to complete. Some 82,000 square feet of track will be replaced, 80,000 of it with concrete and 2,000 square feet of asphalt, which works about to about one-eighth of the race surface.

“The concrete takes a while," Denker said. “You’ve got to rip it all out and lay in the new stuff. The good news is that when we’re done, we’ll have all concrete turns on the race track."

Race organizers are also considering removing one turn from the race surface and adding another long straightaway to the race track, which would extend the course from 2.1 to 2.4 miles.

“If you’re going to have the race here for a number of years, you want to have good racing," Denker said, adding a decision whether to make that change in time for the 2013 race would be made within the next 8-10 weeks. Windsor Star

Leave a Reply