SBD/June 2, 2014/Events and Attractions

Future Of Belle Isle GP Seems Secure After Event Has Best Attendance Since '07

Officials believe attendance was well over 100,000 for the three-day event at Belle Isle
Following "three perfect days of warm, sunny weather" for the Verizon IndyCar Series Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, event Chair Bud Denker yesterday "was beaming," according to Mark Fogarty of the DETROIT FREE PRESS. Denker said, "I thought it was a pretty darn good weekend. Didn't the city shine? In isolation, you wouldn't have known if you were in San Diego, Monaco or Detroit." He expects that this year's race crowd will be "up on last year's rain-affected attendance and one of the biggest since" team Owner Roger Penske brought the IndyCar race back to Belle Isle in '07. Denker: "I haven't got attendance figures yet. We have to be well over 100,000 for the three days." He believes that the turnout "laid the foundations for the GP to be bigger in 2015, when it will again run on the first weekend of June following the Indianapolis 500." Denker said, "We're going to have the Duals back next year. It's so important for us, giving us five hours of live TV. Our sponsors want it." Denker added that he will "soon start talks with IndyCar for a new multi-year race contract" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 6/2). In Detroit, Drew Sharp notes Penske was "equally excited that the weekend of racing at Belle Isle was generally considered a huge success." Three days of "fabulous" crowds proved that this "reincarnation of the Grand Prix could be around for a long time." Penske: "We can’t have a Super Bowl every year. But everyone’s starting to recognize that we have a great resource in Belle Isle, and we can use it to put on a great event every year that everyone in the city can rally around. It was great seeing the crowds. It was especially good seeing all the kids out here" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 6/2).

GOOD VIBRATIONS: The DETROIT FREE PRESS' Sharp writes the weekend was "about Penske’s dream, another chapter in his relentless attempt at reinvigorating the local and national perception of Detroit." The Belle Isle GP is "a huge event." Fans "must appreciate Penske’s ingenuity in creating a spectacle that showcases positive aspects of the city" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 6/2). In Detroit, John Niyo writes under the header, "Belle Isle Also Comes Out A Big Winner In Weekend Of Racing." The grandstands "were filled, the premium chalets sold out" and the vast majority of fans "went home happy" (DETROIT NEWS, 6/2). Also in Detroit, Gregg Krupa notes Helio Castroneves won the second leg of the GP, "just ahead of his teammate, Will Power, who won the first one, Saturday, giving Penske and Chevrolet a sweep on what was a remarkable weekend of racing" (DETROIT NEWS, 6/2). The DETROIT NEWS' Angelique Chengelis writes there were "multiple positives from the weekend," including the "debut of stadium truck racing featuring ramps and high-flying trucks, added to the race schedule to attract younger fans" (DETROIT NEWS, 6/2).
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