New contract keeps Detroit on IndyCar and IMSA schedules

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2018 Chevrolet Duel in Detroit, 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series
Credit: James Black / Courtesy of IndyCar

The Detroit Grand Prix will remain on the calendars of both the Verizon IndyCar Series and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for at least the next three years thanks to a new event contract.

The deal was confirmed yesterday after the contract passed its final obstacle, approval from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Thankfully, the department granted permission for the event to be run, with 2019, 2020 and 2021 events confirmed with an option for a further two-year extension to take the event through to 2023.

The Detroit Grand Prix has been a staple of the Verizon IndyCar Series and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship schedules for every year since 2012, after returning following several revival attempts. The Belle Isle street circuit has produced some fantastic racing over recent years, with the event’s popularity exacerbated by the introduction of the “doubleheader” weekend format which debuted for the IndyCar series six years ago.

In a statement released yesterday, Bud Denker, the Chairman of the Grand Prix, stated that he was “excited” that the event would be remaining for at least the next three years, whilst also going on to acknowledge how much the event means to the city of Detroit itself:

“We are excited that the Detroit Grand Prix will continue at Belle Isle for the next several years and we want to thank the State of Michigan for working with us on this new agreement, as well as our partners with the City of Detroit and the Belle Isle Conservancy,”

“This event means so much to Detroit, to Windsor and our entire community. We are proud to showcase the beauty of Belle Isle around the world every year and to make such a positive impact on the local economy with over $50 million in total spending generated annually as a result of the Grand Prix. Most importantly, we want to continue our goal of improving Belle Isle Park.

“The Grand Prix has made over $13.5 million in improvements on the island over the last decade and we know there’s still a lot more work that needs to be done. Our team looks forward to building on all of the positive momentum and being part of the remarkable renaissance going on at Belle Isle.”

As alluded to in Denker’s statement, part of the new deal is that improvements will be made to how the event is run. One particular problem over the last few years has been the amount of time it takes to prepare the area for the event, including the construction of grandstands and the placement of catch fencing.

The new deal includes a commitment from the race organisers to shorten the amount of time taken to both build the circuit and its facilities, as well as the takedown after the races have been run.  Back in 2015, it took ninety-four days for the combined setup and deconstruction. The race organisers have agreed, as a part of the new contract, to reduce that time down to sixty days in 2019, followed by a further reduction to fifty-nine days in 2020.

The 2019 Detroit Grand Prix is currently pencilled in to be run from May 31 to June 2, however, this is still pending further negotiations between IndyCar and the race organisers. The full 2019 IndyCar Series calendar will be revealed in the coming months, as the current 2018 season nears its conclusion.

The next round of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series, the ABC Supply 500, will take place on Sunday, August 19 at Pocono Raceway. The next race of the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship takes place on the same day at Virginia International Raceway.

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Reporter from the East of England. Covering the NTT IndyCar Series for The Checkered Flag. Also an eSports racing driver on iRacing.
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