Convergence

The Detroit auto show, Detroit Grand Prix, and Michigan International Speedway look for ways to capitalize on June 2020 events.
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Verizon IndyCar Series
The Detroit auto show hopes racing events in 2020 translate to increased attendance.

Nowhere will the old adage “race on Sunday, sell on Monday” be more evident than in May and June 2020 when the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix, the NASCAR race at Michigan International Speedway, and the North American International Auto Show converge for the first time.

Next year, the auto show runs June 6-20, while the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix Presented by Lear will take place on the Raceway at Belle Isle May 29-31. NASCAR’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway is scheduled for June 12-14.

“It’s not surprising that two great motor races in the Detroit area — the Detroit Grand Prix and the NASCAR race at Michigan International Speedway — provide a great backdrop to the new June timing of the Detroit auto show,” says Edsel B. Ford II, a board member of Ford Motor Co. “Automobile racing and the Detroit auto industry have always been intertwined, dating back to my great-grandfather Henry Ford’s win in his first and only race with ‘Sweepstakes’ in 1901.”

Rod Alberts, executive director of the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, which is the official host of the auto show, is looking forward to working with the race organizers. “June in Michigan is a great time to celebrate the automobile and the technology within it,” he says. “With our show’s move to June, the Grand Prix, and various races at MIS, we’ll have a great opportunity to create partnerships and collaboration with new organizations that share our love for the industry.”

Michael Montri, president of the Detroit Grand Prix, says discussions already have begun. “We’ve always worked very closely with the auto show,” he says. “We’ve had a display at the auto show since the Grand Prix started in 1982. We’ve always had a very good relationship with them.

“Regarding 2020, we’ve had some very preliminary discussions about what their general plans are and how we might fit in, and some potential ways to co-promote our events. We’ve talked about some potential expense-sharing on things like fencing and porta-potties, things like that.”

Before the 2020 synergies can be realized, there are races to be run this year. The Grand Prix will be run May 31-June 2, while NASCAR races are on June 9 and Aug. 11.

Grand Prix race organizers are adding several new marketing wrinkles to the 2019 event, in an effort to boost attendance and improve the experience for spectators. All ticket-holders will have access to the Fifth Third Bank Paddock, where cars from all series involved in the weekend prepare to practice, qualify, and race.

“The more we thought about it, we decided what a great benefit it would be to all of our ticket-holders, regardless of ticket level, to be able to get into the paddock,” Montri says. “That means anyone can get to the winner’s circle near the beautiful Scott Fountain.”

A new pedestrian bridge will allow fans to get to turns 7-11, referred to as “The Horseshoe,” while the front stretch grandstands will be opposite the pit lane rather than behind it, offering a better view of the cars and their pit stops. In turn, a line of double-level corporate chalets that were in front of the pits will now be located behind them.

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