Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix riving into Motor City with More Racing, Entertainment

Posted on May 27, 2014

Photo: Tanya Moutzalias, MLive


DETROIT, MI- Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix officials are looking to attract more than 110,000 people to Belle Isle next weekend with more than just IndyCar racing

Bud Denker, Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix chairman, said organizers spent a lot more time this year focusing on making the three-day event appealing to everyone.

“There’s going to be a lot more crossover entertainment,” he said during a recent interview on Detroit’s Belle Isle. “I’d like to get everybody down here, non-racing enthusiasts and racing enthusiasts.”

This year’s event features a new beer garden, monster truck rides, BMX biking, new truck racing, a family fun zone and three full days of entertainment.

Headlining this year’s Grand Prix are rock band Lifehouse and reggae pop artist Shaggy.Lifehouse is scheduled to play from 6:15-7:25 p.m. Saturday. Shaggy, best known for his 2001 hit “It Wasn’t Me,” is scheduled to perform 12:30-1:30 p.m. Sunday.

Other local and upcoming artists include 2XL, Rock & Roll Prep School, Orbis, L’USA and Anna de Ferran. Click here for a full schedule.

De Ferran, daughter of 2003 Indy 500 winner and two-time IndyCar Champion Gil de Ferran, is expected to have a particularly special performance. It will be her first major public performance following her singing of “God Bless America” during the pre-race ceremonies at the Verizon IndyCar Series season opener Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in March.

Players from the Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Tigers, Detroit Pistons and Detroit Lions also are expected to make appearances throughout the weekend.

As for the racing, the three-day event will include seven races for four different racing series, including the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans featuring cars of the Verizon IndyCar Series; the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic presented by the Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers with the sports cars of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship; the Cadillac V-Series Challenge presented by the Metro Detroit Cadillac Dealers featuring the cars of the Pirelli World Challenge Series and the SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks Series.

If attendance does hit 110,000 people this year, it would be a 16 percent increase from last year and the largest crowd since the Grand Prix returned to Detroit in 2012. More than 95,000 people, according to event officials, attended the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix events in 2007, 2008 and 2012.

Denker said ticket sales so far this year are higher than last year during the same time

Officials, during a media event last week on Belle Isle, also touted the importance of the race weekend to Detroit. The Grand Prix generated over $46 million in total spending for the Metro Detroit region in 2013, and officials expect more this year.

“To bring world-class racing to the City of Detroit and Belle Isle in the shadow of (GM’s World Headquarters), it’s a special thing,” said Jim Campbell, GM U.S. vice president, performance vehicles and motorsports.

Event organizers say investments related to the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix are expected to total roughly $7.2 million through this year, including $3.2 million from the past three years and an additional more than $4 million investment following this year’s event.

This year marks the third year since Chevrolet signed a deal with Penske Corp. and IndyCar that brought racing back to the Motor City after a three-year hiatus in 2012. Last week, the organizations also announced an extension to continue as the title sponsor of the Grand Prix through at least 2016.