Detroit Grand Prix to return downtown in 2023 under contract approved by City Council

Joe Guillen, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Auto Racing

After years of racing on Belle Isle, the Detroit Grand Prix is heading back downtown starting in 2023.

The IndyCar race, a post-Memorial Day tradition in Detroit, will roar through the streets of downtown through 2025 under a contract approved Wednesday by the Detroit City Council.

The move takes the race back to its roots. Cars zoomed around a road course set up in downtown Detroit when the Detroit Grand Prix first started in 1982.

The council approved the contract with little discussion at Wednesday's meeting. The only comment came from Irvin Corley, fiscal analyst with the council's Legislative Policy Division, who noted that a recent University of Michigan study estimated that the move downtown will bring an additional $10 million in spending at Detroit businesses.

The race, officially known as the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear, has been on Belle Isle since 2012, but not without controversy.

Belle Isle is a public park, considered to be the city's crown jewel. The race's presence there has been the subject of numerous protests denouncing the Grand Prix's environmental impact and its limitation on public access to the park.


When the race began on the Formula One series 39 years ago, cars raced around the area near the Renaissance Center. When CART replaced Formula One on the calendar in 1989, the race stayed downtown until 1992, when it was moved to Belle Isle until the race ended in 2001.

Roger Penske helped revitalize the race in 2007, though only for two years when the Great Recession hit. The race returned in 2012 on Belle Isle.

In a photo presented to City Council in September, the proposed course would include running Jefferson, from Rivard down to Hart Plaza, doubling back toward Bates and then taking Atwater, back past the Renaissance Center.

The race, which IndyCar has pared down from a weekend doubleheader to a single race next year, will be on Belle Isle in the first weekend of June.

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