IndyCar's Future At Belle Isle Unclear After Last Scheduled Races
The future of the Verizon IndyCar Series' Detroit Grand Prix at Belle Isle is uncertain after the contract between Chevy and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources "expired at the conclusion of this weekend's races," according to Geoff Robinson of the DETROIT NEWS. Race Chair Bud Denker said that he "plans to make a proposal to the state DNR" about extending the open-wheel series' run at the venue. He added that he "thinks there's a strong case to keep the popular dual races on the island." Robinson notes there have been "local activists that have argued against the use of the island as a place for racing." However, Denker said that the "things the race does for the city are almost immeasurable." Denker added that the state fairgrounds and the Detroit airport previously "were looked at as possible 'Plan B' options." But he said yesterday, "If we don't have it on Belle Isle then we won't be here in Detroit" (DETROIT NEWS, 6/4). In Detroit, Shawn Windsor wrote some residents "see the race as a nuisance and worry about the environmental effects" it has on Belle Isle, and several protesters last week voiced their "displeasure with the setup." IndyCar team owner Roger Penske said, "I just wish there was a way to rationally sit down with people to try to explain the benefits. We're not in a situation where we want to get into a fight on anything. We want to continue to try to make it easier for everybody on Belle Isle." He said this is an "event for Detroit." Penske: "(We are) showcasing our city. Trust me, that's worth a lot to this city" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 6/3).
IT CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE: In Detroit, Krupa & Robinson note yesterday's race was delayed for almost 30 minutes when the Corvette pace car "spun at the start of its first lap and struck a portion of the wall ... with considerable force." GM Exec VP/Global Product Development, Purchasing & Supply Chain Mark Reuss was driving the car with IndyCar exec Mark Sandy. Denker said of Reuss, "He told me he was totally OK and just disappointed in what happened" (DETROIT NEWS, 6/4). Both Reuss and Sandy "escaped with no major injuries," as the airbags deployed. Reuss has "driven the pace car on the streets of Belle Isle on multiple occasions" and he has been "trained and attained certification to drive high-performance cars" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 6/4). CBS' Gayle King said it is "not going to be fun" for Reuss at work today. CBS’ Norah O’Donnell was more sympathetic, noting driving a pace car is "harder than it looks” (“CBS This Morning,” 6/4). ESPN’s Kenny Mayne said of driving the pace car, “It’s not supposed to be this way. It’s supposed to be a nice leisurely, fun, take people for a ride, have a good time before the race” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 6/4).
STEALING THE SPOTLIGHT: The pace car crash went viral on traditional and social media channels globally, and it wound up generating $3.47M in exposure between TV, digital, social and radio channels, according to an analysis by Apex Marketing Group. Company President Eric Smallwood said, "The pace car crash amplified the exposure to Corvette, where the exposure for the race on Saturday was limited to just the ABC broadcast. The exposure on Sunday was more than 70 times worth the exposure Corvette received during the Detroit Grand Prix race No. 1 on Saturday” (Adam Stern, Staff Writer). Motorsports reporter Jeff Gluck wrote on Twitter, "Watching CNN in the airport. Guess which racing highlight from yesterday made the newscast? Yep, the pace car crash" (TWITTER.com, 6/4).