IRL: Motor City marvelous at Belle Isle

Detroit did itself proud with Sunday's (September 2nd) Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. The city's beloved Belle Isle returned to turn-of-the-20th-century gentility to host an ear-splitting round of motorsport under the watchful eyes of Roger...

Detroit did itself proud with Sunday's (September 2nd) Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix.

The city's beloved Belle Isle returned to turn-of-the-20th-century gentility to host an ear-splitting round of motorsport under the watchful eyes of Roger Penske and the Detroit Downtown Partnership.

After years of bearing the burden of perception (crime, traffic, drugs) Motor City shed the mantle of lawlessness and held a world-class sporting event for the common man.

If the devil lies in the details, the marvelous preparation done in anticipation of the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix and its supporting races was hot as hades.

Detroit drew from its successful experience with SuperBowl XL to organize parking for visitors and provided adequate coach horsepower to make the shuttle system work.

Nearly half a million square feet of concrete was poured to create a family and fan-friendly recreational area (that hosted two major concerts during the racing down-time), and a professional paddock area for the teams' transporters and garages.

The diverse corps of yellow-shirted volunteers were as sunny as the weather throughout the three-day race weekend that hosted both IndyCar and the American LeMans Series.

Remarkably the unpaid help looked and acted as fresh and forever-friendly at the conclusion of Sunday's festivities as at Thursday's first day. Best of all, not a one of them had a whistle.

The festival-atmosphere of the reinvigorated island in the Detroit River was infectious.

The ALMS teams considerately helped kids and dates into the cockpit of their exotic prototype vehicles for pictures.

Paul Newman felt sufficiently comfortable to partake of some IndyCar hospitality during Sunday's lead-up to the competition.

Even the drivers, as they loaded onto their pick-up trucks for the pre-race tour of the track, seemed lifted from the grind of racing thirteen of the last sixteen weekends.

All of this aside from one of the most exciting finishes, complete with a ticking clock and time expiring, the Indy Racing League has seen on a street or road course.

The DDP, the organizing body's shorthand name, hit a home run with its first at-bat in MoTown.

So much so that racing's kingpins announced a renewal of the event for the 2008 season.

Who knew, only a short hop from downtown Detroit, that such buried treasure lie waiting on the beautiful Belle Isle?

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Series General , IndyCar
Drivers Paul Newman , Roger Penske