Recently at the Detroit Renaissance Marriot’s Ambassador Ballroom, the multitudes in attendance left with the knowledge that the sweet sounds of those magnificently designed and elegant rockets that move on the ground on four wheels will once again grace Detroit’s Belle Isle.
With Penske Corp. Chairman Roger Penske acting as the linchpin, Chevrolet announced a multi-year agreement with the Penske Corporation and INDYCAR to bring professional motorsports to the Motor City for the first time in four years. Hallelujah!
“I’ve had a long relationship with GM and both of us know that the Belle Isle site is one of the best in the country,” Penske said. “This is a natural fit, Chevrolet, INDYCAR and the city that brought cars to the forefront. I’m excited about the possibilities.”
Said Mayor Bing: “As I look back at my first two years in office, there was a lot of talk that GM might move their world headquarters, but I’m so glad they decided to stay right in the Renaissance Center in Detroit.
“For the first time in 25 years the Lions are undefeated, the Tigers are in the ALCS and now the INDYCARs are coming back to the Motor City. The economic impact and the innovations that will happen at Belle Isle are wonderful for the city.”
The first Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix will be held June 1-3, 2012 at the picturesque 2.1-mile raceway road course. Penske noted that the three-day event will host four races.
Penske told the attentive audience that besides the featured Chevrolet Indy Grand Prix, there will be a GRAND-AM Rolex Series, Cadillac V-Series Challenge and Firestone Indy Light Series race.
“On Friday we plan to make the events free for all the citizens of Detroit,” he said.
All of the speakers acknowledged the history and connectivity of Chevrolet and INDYCARs, and Belle Isle.
“Chevrolet has been instrumental in bringing motorsports back to Detroit,” said Penske. “The Grand Prix will draw international attention and visitors to Belle Isle which is one of the most-scenic race venues in the United States. We believe the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix will be one of the most popular races in the IZOD IndyCar Series and will play a major role in the renaissance of Detroit.”
Said Brazilian Hélio Castroneves, who scored his first victory for Team Penske in Detroit in 2000 and came back and won in 2001: “I thank Chevrolet and the mayor of Detroit for bringing us back to Detroit. This place is special for me because it is where I earned my first victory on the circuit. I have a new car and people tell me it is fast, so I look forward to going very fast in Detroit.”
The enthusiastic audience was elated that professional auto racing is back in the Motor City. In recent history, racing was held at the Renaissance Center and later Belle Isle. Racing has been held from 1989-01, 2007-08 and now is back for at least three years starting in 2012. Detroit headlined the CART open-wheel series in the first era and the IndyCar Series later.
“Chevrolet has a long, storied history in Indy car racing,” Reuss said. “This year we celebrated the shared centennial of Chevrolet and the Indianapolis 500. We’re excited to see that history continue with the help of Penske Corporation and INDYCAR, bringing back open-wheel racing to Detroit in 2012. This city is a natural for racing. It put the world on wheels and the roar of engines is something that simply belongs here.”
Indy car racing has a global audience. The 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series includes 17 events in the United States, Canada, Brazil, and Japan, reaching an estimated television audience of 191 million people in 200 countries.
The Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix was last held in 2007 and 2008. Based on estimates from the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau, those two events combined attracted more than 200,000 visitors and brought more than $100 million to the Detroit economy.
Hallelujah! the Motor City will once again host one of the world’s most prestigious motorsports events. It’s a natural fit.