Detroit IndyCar Event Gets Positive Reviews; Some Drivers Not Doubleheader Fans
The "general reaction" from this weekend's Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit was that it was a "tremendous success," according to Drew Sharp of the DETROIT FREE PRESS. Penske Corp. Senior VP and race Chair Bud Denker a year ago stood at the main exit and "apologized to fans for a calamitous afternoon of long delays and endless road repair." But Denker yesterday "thanked everyone for coming." He said, “It was a great show. The mood is 180 degrees different than what it was at this same time a year ago. The drivers loved the new layout. There was plenty of action, especially on the new straightaway. The aerial television views of Detroit were spectacular.” Sharp writes this year was "more about restoring confidence in the basic execution of running a race," and organizers "more than easily cleared that hurdle." Organizers were "pleased but far from complacent," and they "won’t bask in the glow of a very successful race weekend for too long." Denker said, "It was important that we bounced back this time. But now, it's about pushing this forward in making it one of the premier events on the circuit" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 6/3). In Detroit, Terry Foster writes for the "second year in a row, the Grand Prix turned into a situation comedy without the laugh track." Last year, a "crumbling track left us in stitches." But this time, the drivers "turned into blockheads." Some said that the "problem was the combination of hot tires turning cool after cautions on a new surface." But the "good news" is the race "turned into a good old-fashioned track meet at the end." There was some "drama and maybe the best driver did not win, but there was action that kept fans on their feet" (DETROIT NEWS, 6/3).
DOUBLE TROUBLE? In Detroit, Angelique Chengelis writes the doubleheader format for the event, which was a first for IndyCar, "received mixed reviews." Driver Dario Franchitti said, "I'm not a fan of the doubleheader. I think the spectacle is always on Sunday afternoon. I think (with two races) it muddies the water a little bit." Driver Scott Dixon said, "I don't think it's something we need to do all the time. It's been a long time since I've done multiple races in one weekend, so it's nice if you have a bad day and you can try to bounce back" (DETROIT NEWS, 6/3). Meanwhile, IndyCar team Owner A.J. Foyt said that the doubleheader format is a "winner for race fans." In Detroit, Mark Fogarty notes while Foyt "sees the appeal for spectators, the move to twin IndyCar races over two days increases the risk of a big damage bill." Foyt said, “I think it’s a better show for the fans, but it’s not better for the owners." Foyt, who "admits that his team is a break-even operation at best, doesn’t like doubling the likelihood of costly crashes." Foyt said, “It could cost you up to $200,000-$300,000 very easy" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 6/3). Speed's Robin Miller said of the doubleheader, "The drivers first said, 'Ahhh, two races back-to-back. That's too hard on us.' Believe me, these guys are in good shape. They raced about as hard as you can on a street course and thankfully, Roger Penske put this course back the way it used to be for the CART days where you could really race" ("Wind Tunnel," Speed, 6/2).
LOOKING AHEAD: In Detroit, Doug Guthrie notes plans already have "begun to take shape for the Belle Isle Grand Prix's return next year and beyond." Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said, "I have to have a good sit-down with Roger Penske to talk about the future of this event and how much it does for our city. This event shows us to the world in such a different light than all the negative news we have faced." Guthrie notes while ABC/ESPN cameras "captured dramatic views of the cityscape backing the action on the track, they also showed the grandstands that were nowhere near filled for the second rain-threatened day in a row." But the corporate entertainment chalets "were filled." Plans already are "in place to increase that business." Double-decker chalets will "replace the big grandstands between the pits and garage area, creating elevated suites that will overlook the start, finish and pit stop action." Chevrolet and Cadillac had a "huge presence at the event and will be back next year along with Honda." The "massive front pit-side grandstands will be moved to another location on the track, perhaps into the shady picnic area that flanks the new straightaway" (DETROIT NEWS, 6/3).