Detroit Grand Prix canceled for 2009
12/18/08, 4:58 pm et
The Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix is the latest casualty of the global economy in general and the Detroit region's struggles specifically, AutoWeek has learned.
Long-time CART and IndyCar Series team owner Roger Penske--who spearheads the event in his role as chairman of the Downtown Detroit Partnership--informed the Indy Racing League and American Le Mans Series that the race will not be held in 2009. Penske told AutoWeek that Audi's recent decision to effectively quit the ALMS in 2009, combined with Porsche pulling the plug on its factory RS Spyder prototype program--a program Penske's team ran--hurt the race, as did Detroit's poor economy overall.
"Obviously, it's something we're disappointed in, but as good businessmen we've got to make a call," he said. "We have the assets to continue on, but there's no reason at this point to have an event that wouldn't be first-class.
"This is a real economic time of distress for everyone and we couldn't sit here and count on a lot of things happening that we know weren't going to happen, especially knowing we live in such a distressed area with unemployment and all the other things going on.
"We had to make the decision."
The Grand Prix--scheduled for Sept. 4-6--returned to the city in 2007 to strong reviews after a six-year absence. Officials hope to resurrect the race as soon as possible.
Formula One cars first took to downtown Detroit's streets in 1982, racing annually in the Motor City until the event switched to the CART World Series in 1989. The race moved from the streets to the Belle Isle Park circuit in 1992, and continued as a CART weekend through 2001. The IndyCar Series and American Le Mans Series returned as a result of a coordinated effort to improve downtown Detroit led by Penske and the Downtown Detroit Partnership that also brought SuperBowl XL to town in 2006, and has invested in various projects aimed at improving the city.
The move reduces the 2009 IndyCar schedule to 17 races, and the ALMS schedule to 10.
Calls seeking comment from IRL and ALMS officials were not returned immediately.
Detroit Grand Prix canceled for 2009 - AutoWeek Magazine