Grand Prix

  • By George B. Eichorn
    It will be a new member of the Detroit Lions who gets to sound the famous words, “Gentlemen, start your
    engines” with race one of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear returns to the Motor City, June 2-
    4.
     
    Grand Marshal TJ Lang, the new offensive guard for Detroit, will signal the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers this
    Saturday shortly after 3:30 p.m. (ABC/Channel 7 & WCSX 94.7)) on The Raceway at Belle Isle Park street
    circuit, a 2.3 miles track. Lang came to the Lions from rival Green Bay this spring and is a Birmingham Brother
    Rice and Eastern Michigan University graduate.
    Besides the IndyCar event the “Chevrolet Dual in Detroit” features the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar
    Championship, the high-flying trucks of the SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks and the Trans Am Series
    presented by Pirelli. Friday is “Free Prix Day” for fans of motorsports!
    The first Detroit Grand Prix was in 1982 and it started as a Formula One race through the streets of downtown
    Detroit before becoming a CART-sanctioned race in 1989. The race moved to Belle Isle in 1992 continuing
    under the CART/Champ Car banner until 2001. After the success of the Super Bowl in Detroit in 2006, Roger
    Penske and the Downtown Detroit Partnership (DDP) teamed up to bring an annual national sporting event to
    the city of Detroit and spearheaded the return of the Grand Prix in 2007 on Belle Isle. After challenging
    economic times delayed the event following the 2008 season, the Grand Prix returned in 2012.
    Last year saw Sebastien Bourdais of Dale Coyne Racing (Dual I) and Will Power of Team Penske (Dual II)
    winning the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit races. While Power returns with Team Penske this year to defend his
    victory, Bourdais will not compete here as he recovers from multiple injuries suffered during a recent Indy 500
    qualifying accident.
    Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato of Japan is in Detroit along with Verizon IndyCar Series drivers Helio
    Castroneves (Indy runner-up), Simon Pagenaud, Josef Newgarden, Tony Kanaan, Marco
    Andretti, James Hinchcli’e, JR Hildebrand and many others.
    Teammates Ricky and Jordan Taylor from Wayne Taylor Racing return as the defending champions of the
    Chevrolet Sports Car Classic IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race, with the team now racing the
    Cadillac DPi cars. The Taylors have won the first four races to start the 2017 season. Trans Am Series
    presented by Pirelli features driver Adam Andretti while the SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER
    Truck feature local driver Aaron Bambach.
     
    Two-time Olympic gold medal-winning boxer Claressa Shields from Flint will visit the Grand
    Prix on Friday and will meet with “Dancing with the Stars” 2016 runner-up James Hinchcli’e
    of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. Fields will meet with Hinchcli’e, tour his garage area and
    the two will pose for photos in the Fifth Third Bank Paddock.
    Sunday’s Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Dual #2 coverage starts at 3:30 p.m. IMSA Championship coverage is on
    FS2 at 12:30 p.m. CBS Sports Network will air the 3-Dimensional Services Motor City 100 (TA class race) on
    tape-delay later in June and July.
     
    The 2017 Grand Prix features a number of exciting engagement activities in the Meijer Fan Zone. The
    MotorCity Casino Hotel Entertainment Stage will feature live music all weekend, headlined by Country music
    duo Montgomery Gentry, 6 p.m. Saturday, and Jody Watley featuring Shalamar Reloaded, 1 p.m. Sunday.
    There’s food and beverages at the Bud Light Beer Garden and Food Court, featuring the Taste of Detroit with
    local vendor trucks. The popular Detroit Sports District returns featuring interactive displays from Detroit
    professional sports teams with appearance from former and current local athletes. The Meijer Fan Zone will
    also feature tailgating games like Bubble Soccer and giant Jenga, extreme sports demonstrations, an arts and
    crafts show and more.
    Tickets are on sale for the Grand Prix, starting at just $45. To view information on ticket plans and to purchase
    tickets, please visit http://www.DetroitGP.com. Tickets may also be purchased by calling 866-464-PRIX (7749)
    or visit the Grand Prix office in the GM Renaissance Center, 300 Renaissance Center Drive, Suite 2311,
    Detroit.
     
    Since the Grand Prix returned to Belle Isle in 2007, event organizers and contributing partners have made over
    $13 million in lasting improvements to Belle Isle, The improvements include:
    Repairing damaged lighting and drainage systems
    Renovation of Scott Fountain, the Belle Isle Casino and the Belle Isle Boat Club
    Installing new pedestrian bridges and playscapes
    Working with Platinum Equity to install new LED lights on MacArthur Bridge and around the Scott Fountain
    New areas also to be used by park visitors for parking and community events and activities year round
    Creating pedestrian walkways and new bicycle paths on Belle Isle
     
    The Grand Prix generates over $45 million in total spending annually for the Metro Detroit region. Over 95,000
    people attended the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear events in 2007-2008, 2012-2016. Visit
    Facebook at www.Facebook.com/DetroitGP and Twitter at www.Twitter.com/DetroitGP.
    Reach George Eichorn at geichorn@yahoo.com