DETROIT – The inaugural Detroit Grand Prix in 1982 was a race through Downtown Detroit.
It wowed Metro Detroiters, but the Formula One drivers hated the bumpy roads and track setup.
Although there was some improvement, Formula One left by 1989 and the Indy Car took over. Three years later, the race moved to Belle Isle.
Now, Team Penske is hoping to change the venue once again.
“I propose relocating this amazing event from Belle park to the streets of Detroit beginning in 2023,” said Bud Denker, president of Penske Corporation.
On Tuesday, Denker laid out a plan before Detroit City Council to bring the race back to Downtown Detroit for the first time in 32 years. The plan starts with the race track slightly modified from the 1980s -- a rectangular course around the Renaissance Center covering Jefferson Avenue, down Bates Street, along Atwater Street and back up Rivard Street.
“The magic of this route is that it disrupts no traffic north of Jefferson,” Denker said.
According to Denker, the main goal is inclusion, whether that’s hiring Detroiters for seasonal jobs, or getting them to the race that often seemed a world away on the island.
“One half of this race circuit will be accessible to the public for free,” he said. “On Belle Isle, we can’t do that.”
Officials with Team Penske and the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear said in a statement that they still have the option to extend their agreement with the state to host the event on Belle Isle through 2024, but wanted to explore the option of moving downtown sooner than that.
“The Detroit Grand Prix has built a great tradition in the Motor City and we are excited to add to the event’s legacy next year and beyond. The Grand Prix will return to Belle Isle on June 3-5, 2022.
While we have the option of extending the current agreement with the state of Michigan to host the Grand Prix on Belle Isle through 2024, we are exploring the option of returning the event to a downtown street circuit beginning in 2023. The Grand Prix began as a downtown event, hosted on the streets of Detroit from 1982-1991, before making the transition to Belle Isle.
An annual summertime racing festival on the streets of Detroit would represent a connection to the rich heritage of the Grand Prix, the opportunity to engage with broad audiences and provide an even greater boost to the local economy while adding to the energy and momentum that is building downtown and along our beautiful waterfront.
As plans continue to develop, we look forward to providing an update on the exciting future of the Detroit Grand Prix.”Team Penske, Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear
Detroit City Council members still have to consider the proposal, and will be holding meetings with the public during their assessment.
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