Detroit Grand Prix aims to make track improvements for 2nd year on downtown streets
DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Grand Prix’s short, narrow and bumpy track took some shots a day before the race returned to streets downtown.
“We recovered any potential damage,” race chairman Bud Denker said Sunday.
Alex Palou won the race with a dominant performance, leading 74 of 100 laps, a day after saying the 1.7-mile circuit was too tight and too short for IndyCar.
While the Spaniard did say the race went smoother than expected, he suggested it can be improved for 2024.
“Hopefully, we can we can tweak some stuff and make it even better,” Palou said.
Denker said that’s the plan.
Changes will be made to the breaking zone at Turn 3, where drivers slowed from 180-plus mph for a hairpin, and in the area near Turn 8 before the split pit lane.
The track was eight-tenths of a mile longer when it was previously downtown in 1991, but Denver said lengthening the track isn’t an option because of adjacent neighborhood, businesses and a tunnel that connects Detroit to Canada.
“We are where we are,” Denker said.
Open-wheel cars first ran in Detroit in 1982, when Formula One raced on the streets of downtown before the event moved to Phoenix in 1988. The now-defunct CART series ran at Belle Isle from 1992 to 2001.
The IndyCar started racing at Belle Isle in 2007 and left the island in the Detroit River after last year’s race.
“When we moved, we said we can’t bring this back downtown and put up a giant fence,” said Michael Montri, president of the Detroit Grand Prix. “We wanted it to be inclusive.”
More than half of the race track was accessible without an admission charge and some had a view from boats and jet skis on the Detroit River that separates the U.S. from Canada.
Denker said about 20,000 fans paid to watch Sunday’s race and an unknown number of people took advantage of access points that were free, including an area to celebrate the winner while a fireboat in the Detroit River sent streams of water in the air.
“Honestly, Detroit did a tremendous job,” Palou said. “The fans were amazing. I was mind-blowed by how many fans we had being a first-time event. Also the podium on Victory Lane was really fun.”