By George Fox
CBS Detroit Web Producer
Spectators may have felt let down toward Sunday evening at the Grand Prix, but let’s hope the big picture will be kind to the future of racing in Detroit. From the teams in the paddock to the event staff to the thousands of spectators, there was a general sense of excitement and pride. Racing was finally back in The Motor City!
I had the honor of shooting video of Mario Andretti taking WWJ Reporter Kathryn Larson on an IndyCar ride.
Although I covered this for work and had to run pretty much all day, I had a great time. The experience would have been worth the $25 – $45 admission, even with the 2-hour delay. The once full grandstands were practically empty by Sunday evening. Poor track conditions threatened to shut the race down.
With a decent seat running $45 a pop, I’m sure there’s a ton of bitter fans out there. And I wouldn’t blame them for feeling robbed, but it’s not unusual for a race to get delayed or cancelled. Patient fans were eventually able to watch a 15 lap sprint for the checkered flag.
Unfortunately a lot of people across the country on social media were blaming this track trouble on the “incompetence of Detroit.” There seemed to be a 70/30 split between the detractors and supporters. At the end of the day it was persistence of Detroit that got the race back on track. Personally, I’m just thankful everyone crossed the finish line without major injury.
The weird thing is everyone we talked to on Thursday seemed happy with the conditions of the the track. One crew member commented that his driver had seen some really sketchy tracks on the European circuit and that Detroit’s setup looked good.
It would be a shame for this to be the end for IndyCar racing in Detroit. The money this event brings into the city is much needed. I can’t imagine it’ll be back without a complete resurfacing of the course. Walking around the grounds Sunday, seeing all the smiling faces and money changing hands at the vendor booths proves to me that there is an interest in racing here.
I feel bad that weather and a faulty piece of synthetic rubber have tarnished Detroit’s racing future. Working with any of the people involved in organizing or staffing the event you can tell they poured their heart into it.
In the stands I spotted a couple holding hands during The Four Tops’ national anthem, the audience cheered on the drivers as they made the turn. It was a special day for Detroit. It wasn’t perfect, but overall fans left Belle Isle with nice taste of high-performance fun. Thanks to everyone involved in the event.
George Fox is a Spartan, a Michigander, and Web Producer for CBS 62/CW50 in Detroit. When I’m not working on content for the CBS Local websites, I’m probably hanging out on the boat, at deer camp or spending quality time with the fam. Follow George on Twitter @GeorgeJFox.