12 October 2011
Detroit Belle Isle returns to series in 2012
The IndyCar Series is to return to Detroit's Belle Isle Park road course in 2012, in a multi-year deal between the series, Penske Racing and engine suppliers Chevrolet.
IndyCar is to return to the historic and scenic 2.1-mile semi-permanent raceway on Detroit's Belle Isle for the first time in four years, starting from next June.
The circuit, which hosted a Formula 1 Grand Prix event in 1982 before going on to stage 12 CART series events from 1989 to 2001 and two revival events under the IRL banner in 2007 and 2008, is returning under a multi-year deal between IndyCar, Penske Racing and General Motors subsidiary Chevrolet which is itself returning to the series as an engine supplier next season.
"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," said team owner Roger Penske. "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 continuing the renaissance of Detroit."
The first Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix will take place June 1-3 next season, making it the next event immediately after the Indianapolis 500 and before the Texas Motor Speedway double-header, and is a welcome return for the sport to "Motor City".
“Chevy has come to the plate and said this is exactly what we need to deliver to show our product," said IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard. "To have them step up to the plate at Belle Isle is just one more very positive move for Chevy and IndyCar. If you're going to showcase your relevance, there's not a better city that the Motor City."
"This city is a natural for racing," said Mark Reuss, president of GM North America. "It put the world on wheels and the roar of engines is something that simply belongs here.
"Chevrolet has a long, storied history in Indy car racing," continued Reuss. "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."
The previous two IRL events that were run here attracted more than 200,000 fans between them and contributed an estimated $100m to the local economy, in an area particularly badly hit by the economic downturn in recent times. Tony Kanaan won the 2007 race and Justin Wilson was the final winner in 2008.
Previous CART winners at Belle Isle include Bobby Rahal in 1992, Paul Tracy in 1994, Michael Andretti in 1994, Greg Moore in 1997, Alex Zanardi in 1998, Dario Franchitti in 1999 and Helio Castroneves in 2000/1.
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