DETROIT BELLE ISLE GRAND PRIX RELIES ON EXPERIENCED STAFF AS RACE MAKES ITS RETURN TO THE MOTOR CITY
DETROIT, MI (May 23, 2007) -- The Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix will turn to an experienced and knowledgeable staff of professionals as world-class auto racing makes its return to the Motor City for the first time in six years, August 31-September 2, 2007.
Since the announcement last September that the Grand Prix would once again bring excitement and the international spotlight to downtown Detroit, event officials have been hard at work preparing for the three-day Labor Day 2007 weekend celebration. The high-powered stars of the IndyCar Series will compete at the first Grand Prix in Detroit since 2001, along with the exotic sports cars of the American Le Mans Series in a unique double-feature weekend. Infrastructure improvements totaling over $8 million are underway at the beautiful Belle Isle Park on the Detroit River -- the home to the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. Enhancements include beautification of the island, paving of the paddock and grandstand areas, resurfacing and redesign of the two-mile Raceway on Belle Isle road course and the refurbishment of the historic Belle Isle Casino building.
Organized and promoted by a subsidiary of the Downtown Detroit Partnership, whose chairman -- Roger Penske -- helped bring Super Bowl XL to Detroit, the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix has assembled a team of talented individuals excited about bringing racing back to Motown.
Event Chairman Bud Denker leads the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix team and oversees all aspects of the race. Denker also serves as Senior Vice President of Penske Corporation and Executive Vice President of United Auto Group, Inc. and Penske Performance, Inc. Denker is a Michigan native with degrees from Lake Superior State University and Western Michigan University.
With over 25 years of racing experience, Rena Shanaman is the Events Director for the Detroit Belle Isle Prix. Shanaman organized the inaugural U.S. 500 event at Michigan International Speedway and also managed successful major Grand Prix auto racing events in Vancouver, Chicago, Miami and Cleveland. Raised in Detroit, Shanaman is a graduate of Henry Ford High School and Michigan State University and from 1996-2003 she served as the Vice President of Promoter Relations for Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART), the sanctioning body that last raced in the Detroit Grand Prix. She also created the volunteer organization for the Detroit Grand Prix, which still serves as a model for many events today.
Gary Baise serves as Operations Director for the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. Baise has been creating successful motor racing venues for over 20 years and has helped in the construction and operation of the tracks at Michigan International Speedway, California Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, NC, Richmond International Raceway, the Grand Prix of Cleveland and Nazareth Speedway. Baise began his career in racing working at the Detroit Grand Prix and the Miami Grand Prix in 1983. Architectural designer Daniel Federspiel is also on board and works closely with Baise on the design of the Belle Isle circuit. Federspiel is a lifelong Michigan resident who now lives in Birmingham and graduated from Lawrence Technological University in Southfield.
Serving as Sponsor Services Director for the Grand Prix is Detroit native Sommer Woods. Woods played a key role on Detroit's Super Bowl XL Host Committee, heading up all sponsorship activation for the international event. She also previously served as Tournament Services Manager for PGA Tour events in Houston, TX, Atlanta, GA and Dearborn, MI. Woods brings her years of local event organization expertise to the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix.
A recent addition to the Grand Prix staff is Public and Community Relations Director, Merrill Cain. Another Michigan native who currently resides in Macomb, Cain is a graduate of Central Michigan University. He formerly worked for the Detroit Tigers public relations staff and he has nearly a decade of experience in racing communications serving several roles for CART and the Champ Car World Series.
Tavi Fulkerson leads all sales and sponsorship efforts for the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. Fulkerson and her Michigan-based agency Fulkerson Group directed much of the local sales efforts for Super Bowl XL and has been associated with the North American International Auto Show in Detroit for more than 15 years. She's already helped coordinate a very impressive list of supporters for the return of the Grand Prix to Detroit.
Serving as Deputy Chief Operating Officer, Special Projects for the City of Detroit, Al Fields is also a key member of the Grand Prix team. Fields was largely responsible for coordinating the city's operational efforts and initiatives for Super Bowl XL and his diverse background in technological project management serves as a great asset for the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix as it works closely with the City and other civic agencies.
Tracy Sutter is Controller for the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. A native of metropolitan Detroit, Sutter is a graduate of Central Michigan University, who also earned a Master's Degree in Business Administration from Wayne State University. She also serves as a member of the Penske Corporation financial staff.
A talented support staff and a number of hardworking interns join the team as the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix makes its year-round home in Detroit with offices established at the GM Renaissance Center downtown on the Detroit River, just a few miles from Belle Isle. A dedicated corps of race volunteers, many of whom have worked previous Grand Prix events in Detroit, is also being organized with over 1,500 people expected to commit their time and effort to the event over the next several months. Interested volunteers are encouraged to sign up at www.detroitgp.com.
The Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix makes its return to the Motor City in 2007 and is a signature event in what's expected to be one of the most exciting weekends in Detroit history. "Three Days in the D" will take place on Labor Day weekend and will consist of the Grand Prix, the Detroit International Jazz Festival and Oakland County's Arts, Beats and Eats celebration.