Grand Prix Eyes Move from Belle Isle to Downtown Streets in 2023

The Detroit Grand Prix is considering moving its annual IndyCar race from Belle Isle back to the streets of downtown Detroit where the race began in 1982 as a Formula 1 contest. The move would go into effect for the 2023 event.
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A car rounding the corner at the 2021 grand prix
The Detroit Grand Prix is considering moving from Belle Isle, pictured above in 2021, to the streets of downtown Detroit beginning in 2023. // Photo by Tim Keenan

The Detroit Grand Prix is considering moving its annual IndyCar race from Belle Isle back to the streets of downtown Detroit where the race began in 1982 as a Formula 1 contest. The move would go into effect for the 2023 event.

“While we have the option of extending the current agreement with the state of Michigan to host the Grand Prix on Belle Isle through 2024, we are exploring the option of returning the event to a downtown street circuit beginning in 2023,” said the statement released today. “The Grand Prix began as a downtown event, hosted on the streets of Detroit from 1982-1991, before making the transition to Belle Isle.”

British F1 driver John Watson won the first Detroit Grand Prix in 1982. The late Ayrton Senna won the last three Motor City F1 races.

In 1989, IndyCars took the place of F1 as the event’s main attraction. Emerson Fittipaldi won the first IndyCar race on the streets of Detroit.

The event moved to Belle Isle in 1992 to avoid closing the downtown streets during the race weekend and also due to lack of passing areas the roughness of the streets involved. Driver Eddie Cheever, during a press conference following the 1982 race, complained of a blister on his hind quarters as a result of his car hitting so many bumps.

Bobby Rahal took the checkered flag at the close of the first Grand Prix run on Belle Isle in 1992.

Marcus Ericsson and Pato O’Ward won the two 2021 races on Belle Isle. There will only be one IndyCar race on Belle Isle June 3-5 next year.

“An annual summertime racing festival on the streets of Detroit would represent a connection to the rich heritage of the Grand Prix, the opportunity to engage with broad audiences and provide an even greater boost to the local economy while adding to the energy and momentum that is building downtown and along our beautiful waterfront,” the statement from the race said.

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