Detroit Indy Grand Prix

Detroit Indy Grand Prix
Belle Isle Grand Prix
Detroit Grand Prix on Belle Isle route.svg
Location The Raceway on Belle Isle
Detroit, Michigan, USA
42°20′10″N 82°59′44″W / 42.33611°N 82.99556°W / 42.33611; -82.99556Coordinates: 42°20′10″N 82°59′44″W / 42.33611°N 82.99556°W / 42.33611; -82.99556
Corporate sponsor Firestone
First race 1982
Last race 2008
Distance 188.64 miles (303.5 km)
Previous names Detroit Grand Prix (1982-87)

EniChem Detroit Grand Prix (1988)

Valvoline Detroit Grand Prix (1989-1991)

ITT Automotive Detroit Grand Prix (1992-1998)

Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit (1999-2001)

Most wins (driver) 3 drivers tied (2)
Most wins (team) Penske Racing (4)
Most wins (manufacturer) Reynard (6)
Circuit information
Surface Asphalt/Concrete
Length 2.07 mi (3.33 km)
Turns 14
Lap record 1:12.2861 (Scott Dixon, Dallara IR3-Honda, 2008, IndyCar)

The Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix presented by is a weekend of professional auto racing held at the Renaissance Center and later the Belle Isle in Detroit, United States. It has been held from 1989-01, 2007–08, and is scheduled for 2012 and beyond. It has headlined the CART open-wheel series in the first era and the IndyCar Series in the latter, supported by feeders such as the Indy Lights and Formula Atlantic and top-level sports car series such as the Trans-Am and the ALMS. It has been held in June, after the Milwakuee race and before the Portland race.

Open wheel racing in Detroit dates back to the 1920s-1950s, when AAA held the Detroit 100 at the Michigan State Fairgrounds. AAA also held one five-mile (8 km), non-championship race at Grosse Pointe in 1905.


Formula One

The current race has its origins dating back to 1982 when it was a Formula One World Championship event held on the Detroit street circuit encompassing the Renaissance Center. The original circuit was 2.493 miles (4.012 km) with seventeen corners, and proved to be even slower than Monaco. The rough, demanding, course even included a railroad track crossing and mimicked Monaco, with a tunnel on the main straight. While officially the Detroit Grand Prix, it also has been referred to under the monikor of United States Grand Prix East, because there were multiple Grands Prix in the U.S. at the time. For 1989, the race was planned to be moved to Belle Isle,[1] a city park in the Detroit River, but an agreement could not be established. Instead, in 1989 Formula One left Detroit permanently, and the U.S. Grand Prix moved to Phoenix.


For 1989, the race in Detroit was replaced by a CART event. Instead of moving the race, CART utilized a slightly modified version of the street circuit, eliminating the chicane on the main straight. The race was held on this 2.52-mile (4.06 km) layout for three years. Beginning in 1992, the race was moved to the previously planned temporary course on Belle Isle. The first layout measured 2.1 miles (3.4 km). After a subtle reconfiguration, and due to CART remeasuring all circuits in 1997, the track then measured 2.346 miles (3.776 km).

The event, along with the Michigan 500, provided two CART races in southern Michigan annually.

The 2000 event saw young Brazilian Hélio Castroneves score his first Champ Car victory for Marlboro Team Penske. After his victory lap, he stopped on the frontstretch and climbed the catch fencing in an apparent effort to share his joy with the spectators. Helio became known as "Spider-Man" because of this celebration, which has been repeated in his later victories.

From 1984-2001, the SCCA Trans-Am Series held a race in support of the Detroit Grand Prix. The Motor City 100 was often regarded[who?] as the most important event of the Trans Am schedule.


Even though the track was a temporary street course, it became known as The Raceway on Belle Isle. It was widely criticized for its narrowness, poor access, and its overall uncompetitive nature. Participants also disliked the facility because of its lack of paved areas for support activities. Paddock areas were often muddy and unable to accommodate the teams.

After 2001, CART chose to drop the race from the schedule.

IndyCar revival

In 2006, Roger Penske spearheaded talks to revive the race for 2007 as part of the ALMS and IndyCar Series schedules. Penske had recently experienced tremendous success as head of the Super Bowl XL Detroit Metro Host Committee. On September 29, 2006, it was announced that the Detroit Indy Grand Prix would return as the tenth race of the ALMS's 12-race season and penultimate race of the IndyCar Series' seventeen-race schedule.

To improve access to the track, a park-and-ride system, similar to what was used at Super Bowl XL, was implemented. Further paddock and track work was completed before the race. The 2007 event attracted a strong crowd, and was considered a success. It was held again in 2008.

On December 18, 2008, the scheduled race for 2009 was canceled. The ongoing automotive economic crisis, and its impact on the Detroit-area was the primary reason. Roger Penske did not rule out a return in the future.[2][3]

On September 20, 2011, race organizers gained approval from Detroit City Council to use the updated track and support area on Belle Isle.[4] On October 11, 2011, it was announced that the race will return starting in 2012.[5]

Past winners

The Renaissance Center course utilized from 1982–1991
Belle Isle course used from 1998-2001
Season Date Winning Driver Chassis Engine Team
Grosse Pointe dirt oval
1905 August 8 United States Webb Jay White White steam engine
AAA Championship Car history (Michigan State Fairgrounds dirt oval)
1928 June 10 United States Ray Keech Miller Miller
1929 June 9 United States Cliff Woodbury Miller Miller
1930 June 9 United States Wilbur Shaw Smith Miller
1931 June 14 United States Louis Meyer Stevens Miller
1932 June 9 United States Bob Carey Stevens Miller
1932 September 10 United States Mauri Rose Stevens Miller
1932 June 11 United States Bill Cummings Miller Miller
1949 September 11 United States Tony Bettenhausen Kurtis Kraft Offenhauser
1950 September 10 United States Henry Banks Moore Offenhauser
1951 September 9 United States Paul Russo Russo/Nichels Offenhauser
1952 August 30 United States Bill Vukovich Kuzma Offenhauser
1953 July 4 United States Rodger Ward Kurtis Kraft Offenhauser
USAC Championship Car history (Michigan State Fairgrounds dirt oval)
1957 June 23 United States Jimmy Bryan Kuzma Offenhauser
CART Champ Car history (Renaissance Center)
1989 June 18 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Penske Ilmor-Chevrolet Patrick Racing
1990 June 17 United States Michael Andretti Lola Ilmor-Chevrolet Newman/Haas Racing
1991 June 16 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Penske Ilmor-Chevrolet Penske Racing
CART Champ Car history (Belle Isle)
1992 June 7 United States Bobby Rahal Lola Ilmor-Chevrolet Rahal/Hogan Racing
1993 June 13 United States Danny Sullivan Lola Ilmor-Chevrolet Galles Racing
1994 June 12 Canada Paul Tracy Penske Ilmor Penske Racing
1995 June 11 United States Robby Gordon Reynard Ford Walker Racing
1996 June 9 United States Michael Andretti Lola Ford Newman/Haas Racing
1997 June 8 Canada Greg Moore Reynard Mercedes Forsythe Racing
1998 June 7 Italy Alex Zanardi Reynard Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
1999 August 8 United Kingdom Dario Franchitti Reynard Honda Team Green
2000 June 18 Brazil Hélio Castroneves Reynard Honda Penske Racing
2001 June 7 Brazil Hélio Castroneves Reynard Honda Penske Racing
IRL IndyCar Series history (Belle Isle)
2007 September 2 Brazil Tony Kanaan Dallara Honda Andretti Green Racing
2008 August 31 United Kingdom Justin Wilson Dallara Honda Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing

Atlantics/Lights winners

Atlantic Championship
Season Date Winning Driver
1983 June 5 Mexico Josele Garza
Indy Lights
1989 June 18 United States Ted Prappas
1990 June 17 Republic of Ireland Tommy Byrne
1991 June 16 Belgium Eric Bachelart
1992 June 7 Mexico Adrián Fernández
1993 June 13 United Kingdom Steve Robertson
1994 June 12 United Kingdom Steve Robertson
1995 June 11 United States Robbie Buhl
1996 June 9 Brazil Tony Kanaan
1997 June 8 Brazil Tony Kanaan
1998 June 7 Brazil Airton Daré
1999 August 8 Republic of Ireland Derek Higgins
2000 June 18 United Kingdom Jonny Kane

Trans-Am Motor City 100 history

Year Driver Car
1984 Tom Gloy Mercury Capri
1985 Elliott Forbes-RobinsonA Buick Regal
1986 Wally Dallenbach, Jr. Chevrolet Camaro
1987 Scott Pruett Merkur XR4Ti
1988 Hurley Haywood Audi Quattro
1989 Greg Pickett Chevrolet Camaro
1990 Scott Sharp Chevrolet Camaro
1991 Scott Sharp Chevrolet Camaro
1992 Tommy Archer Dodge Daytona
1993 Dorsey Schroeder Ford Mustang
1994 Bill Saunders Ford Mustang
1995 Ron Fellows Chevrolet Camaro
1996 Dorsey Schroeder Ford Mustang
1997 Tommy Kendall Ford Mustang
1998 Paul Gentilozzi Chevrolet Camaro
1999 Brian Simo Ford Mustang
2000 Paul Gentilozzi Jaguar XKR
2001 Paul Gentilozzi Jaguar XKR

^A Winner Wally Dallenbach, Jr. was disqualified due to car being underweight

External links


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