SBD/June 5, 2012/Facilities

Belle Isle Lays Out Track Repair Plans, Confident In Venue's IndyCar Future

Pieces of the track were torn up during Sunday's Belle Isle Grand Prix
Detroit Grand Prix Association Chair Bud Denker said that “work to replace sections of the circuit that came apart at the seams Sunday during the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix and to add a long straightaway on the back of the track will start this summer or early fall,” according to Mike Brudenell of the DETROIT FREE PRESS. Denker said that he “expected the work to patch, replace and extend the 2.1-mile course to take about 30 days once started.” He added that the cost of construction “would have to be shared by the Detroit GP Association, the City of Detroit and the state.” Denker was “confident support events to the IndyCar race would be held again," and that the Izod IndyCar Series and its drivers would "welcome returning to the Belle Isle despite the bizarre circumstances that temporarily shut down the Grand Prix.” Denker said, “I took a few shots this morning," referring to the reaction on talk radio and Twitter. He added, "But I'm still ticking” (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 6/5). In Detroit, David Goricki notes Denker had “no way of knowing the Belle Isle track would fall apart” because four races “went flawlessly, as did numerous practice and qualifying sessions.” Denker: “I never spread concrete in my life, but I learned how.” He added, “It was very important to have a conclusion. We were not going to give up. If we had stopped the race at that point and not given it our best effort, we would have been quitters and made a lot of people disappointed.” Denker “doesn't believe a total repave for the Belle Isle track is needed” (DETROIT NEWS, 6/5).

BOUNCING BACK:
Also in Detroit, Jamie Samuelsen wrote if nothing had happened Sunday on Belle Isle and Scott Dixon had “won a ho-hum race, most of us wouldn’t be writing nor talking about the race.” Samuelsen: "But because the road disintegrated before our eyes, here we are, playing the role of race expert and road guru." A hole in the road is “not enough to overshadow the work" of race organizer and team owner Roger Penske. The track problem is “not a black eye that can’t be repaired,” but rather “a blip.” Samuelsen: “The drivers will be back. The race will be back. And the conditions will improve. I don’t have a shred of a doubt about that” (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 6/4). Dixon said, “I feel bad for everybody that organized the event. They're doing their best, and they did a hell of a job on the weekend.” Dixon added, “It's very important for us to be in the Motor City and Detroit. And we have great fans here. It was a sold-out event today. We've got to focus on the positives. It's something that was just out of everyone's control and I can guarantee you it won't happen again next year.” In Detroit, John Niyo writes, “Clearly, one red-flagged race can't -- and won't -- be the end of this." Niyo notes Chevrolet signed up for a three-year deal as the title sponsor and the three-day event drew attendance more than 100,000, "even on a busy entertainment weekend in downtown Detroit.” Penske said, “It's like everything else in life: The unexpected is what you don't want. ... Obviously, the road hasn’t had much TLC for a long time” (DETROIT NEWS, 6/5).

CLEANING HOUSE: The DETROIT NEWS' Terry Foster writes Grand Prix organizers “tried to put lipstick on Belle Isle, but the ugliness of a neglected island came out during the race when the track got beat up by the roaring cars.” Race organizers “should be applauded" for getting the event back in Detroit, but that "doesn't mean it should have happened.” Foster writes, "We've ignored Belle Isle for years. ... The smart thing would be to repave the entire track.” If the Belle Isle Grand Prix is “really serious about making this a great race, that is exactly what will happen.” Belle Isle "needs better care, and if that happens, the race will be better. If the race is better, Detroit will look better. It's as simple as that” (DETROIT NEWS, 6/5).
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