Earlier this month, Detroit City Council approved moving the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix from Belle Isle, where the race has been held since 2007, back to downtown, where it originated back in 1982 as a Formula 1 event, before evolving into an IndyCar race in 1989.
The new track will use some of the original course, and Team Penske-Chevrolet's two-time champion Josef Newgarden says he approves the 1.7-mile layout which appears fast, the emphasis on straightline speed as per the now-defunct IndyCar street course in Sao Paulo.
Photo by: Chevrolet Detroit GP
"I'm just so excited," said Newgarden during a presentation to local media. "I got to drive the track for about an hour this morning with pretty much everyone, and it really is a great layout.
"I think it's going to be fantastic for racing. As a driver, that's the most important part – how good the race is gonna be. I think they've done a really good job.
"I've given them a couple of notes, couple of things that I want personally to my liking, give me an advantage!
"As a driver I'm super-excited about the unique challenge to try something new. I've had the great opportunity of racing on Belle Isle for the last 10 years. Always love coming to Detroit. It's one of my favorite events out of the year.
"Certainly personally, being a representative of Chevrolet, racing cars with their engines in the back, but also being a Team Penske, Detroit's very special to all of us. We had an opportunity to win two years ago, we have one more opportunity to win on Belle Isle, and then hopefully in 2023 we can have a shot at winning this race."
2023 Detroit IndyCar street course.
Photo by: IndyCar
Bud Denker, chairman of the event as well as president of Penske Corp., said that he and Michael Montri, VP of Penske Entertainment, had been inspired to move the Detroit race back downtown race after attending Nashville's inaugural IndyCar street race in August. Newgarden agreed the Motown shift made sense having seen the effect IndyCar had on his home event.
"I grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, it's my home, and I could never have dreamed, as a young kid, running a race in my home streets," he said. "So I can imagine growing up in the Detroit area and maybe making it to IndyCar one day and running a race here. That would be the equivalent.
"It was just amazing to see what it did for [Nashville]. I know what the impact was on our communities, and the energies and vibrancy was really palpable, and I think that exact same thing will happen here for Detroit. It can be very, very beautiful to engage the community like that and to help small businesses – and also have a fun time in the summer months.
"There was a study done by the University of Michigan – $77m of positive impact to the economy, a 20 percent increase on the race currently on Belle Isle.
"So there are only good things to come."
Photo by: IndyCar
Denker explained: "After I was in Nashville, Josef's home town, in August and saw the first ever race there, Michael and I went to quick speed and said, 'How can we possibly do this in Detroit?' But we had to find the right place to do it, the right circuit to do it, the right partners to do it. I took it to Roger Penske the day before I saw Mayor Duggan, and he said, 'If you think it's a good idea and everybody else does, then make it happen'.
"And now's the time to do that. The engagement with business and the communities, is what excites me the most. All seven districts that I've been to and spoken with [are] engaged about this.
"To think that we can have half of our circuit open to the public for free is also unprecedented, but it's going to happen here in Detroit in 2023…"
Mike Duggan, mayor of Detroit said that he "never understood why the race ever left downtown" and that Denker had been "two minutes into his presentation and I said I'm onboard."
Brenda Jones, president of Detroit City Council, showed similar enthusiasm, saying: "I want to thank you for reaching out to me, giving me the opportunity to reach out to the community, to let the community know they are valued and what they say is valued. Thank you for being a great partner to the city of Detroit.
"All of my colleagues agree that the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix needed to come back downtown, and I am so excited."
Jim Campbell, VP of performance and motorsports for General Motors, said the company was fully behind the move.
"As a car company, we love racing; it's what we do," he said. "It's a chance for us to learn on the track, prove ourselves on the track and take those learnings back into the showroom and build better cars and better propulsion systems for our customers.
"We're going to have a lot of customers here at the races, cheering our teams on, but we're also going to have community members that maybe haven't seen our products or maybe are prospective customers. It's a great chance for us to show them our stuff.
"So we couldn't be prouder to have the race back in the city of Detroit… We will use this opportunity to display our products on the track. We'll race them, we'll show our vehicles in the midway, have displays in and around town, it's a chance for us to interact with our customers today, and also prospective customers. That goes not only for Chevrolet and Cadillac, but also Buick and GMC, and then our partners, suppliers will be here, representing the products they have in our vehicles."
Photo by: Detroit GP
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