Racing at the Detroit Auto Show

Racing at the Detroit Auto Show

One wonders why so many people trek to one of the coldest mid-western cities in the month of January. The first major media day of any given new year, where the press can be treated like royalty just happens to be located in the motor capital...

One wonders why so many people trek to one of the coldest mid-western cities in the month of January. The first major media day of any given new year, where the press can be treated like royalty just happens to be located in the motor capital of the world.

Mitsubishi Eclipse Concept.
Photo by James Burns.
The 2004 North American International Auto Show opened the doors to the members of the international press on Sunday, January 4, 2004 in Detroit, Michigan. The three days consisting of the "Media Days" is for all purposes a gigantic show: Which auto company can dazzle the most with the unveiling of concept cars and new models.

Detroit is known as tinsel town and one can see why when they enter the Cobo Conference and Exhibition Center, the 2.4 million square foot complex is located in the heart of the downtown district along the Detroit River, and next door to the Hockey Town, the home of the Stanley Cup champions - the Detroit Red Wings.

From Sunday to Tuesday, it is non-stop action from the debut of the Dodge Sling Shot - a new member of the Dodge sports car family - is one of the affordable models on display, with a focus on the younger generation. After all, who else would want a car where the canvas roof panel slides back?

And the for the many racing groupies and those of us who are die-hard enthusiasts, the unveiling of the Acura HSC, the High-Performance Sports Concept - an exotic sports car of the future. The 3.5-liter V6 mid-engine allows for, in Acura's words, "optimum balance and superior handling."

Bouncing around (or is that a lot of walking), it is easy to be attracted to the display of real racing cars - no not the open-wheel ones - but the ones anyone can easily recognize and if possible, even drive in competition. Porsche, Ferrari, Audi, Subaru, Honda, Acura, Corvette, Mitsubishi, Mini-Cooper, BMW, Mazda and the list goes on. Yes, these are racing cars - from local Sports Car Club of American road courses to Le Mans 24 Hours.

Porsche Carrera GT.
Photo by James Burns.
Many of the manufacturers work closely with their factory teams and a lot of ideas in a new model come from what is learned on a track. Ford Motor Company has no doubt one of the best statements: "We Race, You Win!"

The most popular displays are the "concept" vehicles - the future to come or just a wild idea. At times a concept is used to bring back a popular model and watch the publics reaction, if favorable, the model may make a comeback, usually with radical changes but the name is the draw. Ford Thunderbird is one example. Could the Mitsubishi Eclipse Concept be another?

From the Formula One machines to the exotic to the expensive sports cars to the concepts to the new models, the NAIAS has it all. Motorsport.com will bring a variety of viewpoints on the connection between an auto show and the racing world.

The NAIAS will be open to the public from Saturday, January 10 to Monday, January 19.

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