Construction begins for Detroit GP

As the trucks hauling barrier walls, grandstands and flooring lumbered across the MacArthur Bridge this week the monumental task of creating The Raceway at Belle Isle Park had officially begun.

The green flag has waved on construction of the 2.07-mile, 14-turn street circuit with tons of materials and hundreds of workers arriving on the island over the next seven weeks, creating the home of the 2008 Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, August 29-31.

Crowds in excess of 100,000 are expected to visit the island over Labor Day weekend with world-class auto racing and family fun once again putting a charge into the Motor City. The sports cars of the American Le Mans Series and the open-wheel machines of the IndyCar Series will test the Belle Isle streets in just a few weeks at the Grand Prix, but first comes the hard work and the remarkable transformation of the island.

"Constructing a first-class racing venue at a vibrant island park like Belle Isle is quite an undertaking," said Bud Denker, Event Chairman of the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. "Fortunately, we've got terrific partners and landlords in the City of Detroit Recreation Department along with a great operations staff and experienced vendors and workers to help get it done."

Detroit Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams was on hand Tuesday to help kick off track construction. Adams even donned a Grand Prix hard hat and operated a forklift to move some cement barriers, signifying that the heavy lifting has started on Belle Isle. Some 2,000 concrete barrier walls will be moved into place beginning this week, creating the framework for the race track on the island. Assembly of the six massive grandstands around the circuit also begins this week.

Following the initial barrier and grandstand delivery, the installation of the elevated flooring for the luxurious hospitality chalets will commence and continue through the second week of August. More than 50,000 feet of temporary fencing will arrive on the island in mid August and will be put in place around the race venue. The Raceway at Belle Isle Park will also feature approximately 27 miles of safety cabling and over 12,000 tires will be delivered to make up the temporary barrier walls used on track race weekend. In the closing stages of construction the dozens of tents, trailers and numerous displays and activity areas will be built on site, setting the stage for an action-packed weekend. The final pieces will be put in place during the final week of August when the race competitors arrive on the island with nearly 200 massive race transporters, motorcoaches and hospitality units.

"There will be a lot of hard work and activity going on at Belle Isle over the next few weeks," said Gary Baise, Operations Director for the Grand Prix. "We invite everyone to come down, take a look and see how much things change from day to day, and enjoy everything the island has to offer."

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