DETROIT — The results are in from the Belle Isle Conservancy’s Grand Prixmiere on May 31 at DTE Energy’s Town Square. The elite affair of almost 400 guests helped to raise nearly $300,000 in support of the conservancy and its mission. Attendees from Detroit to Japan mingled amidst the backdrop of Detroit’s skyline to launch the 2013 Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix weekend of racing.
“For Belle Isle Park, raising funds is where the rubber meets the road,” Michele Hodges, Belle Isle Conservancy president said. “So, we are very pleased to see the community supporting the Belle Isle Conservancy’s mission through events like the Grand Prixmiere. We are truly grateful for our supporters.”
Among the Grand Prixmiere guests, 10 Grand Prix drivers revved up the audience with a spirited Q&A moderated by ESPN/ABC IndyCar reporter, Jamie Little. Hélio Castroneves had the crowd laughing when he cracked, “No harm, no fowl,” after telling the story of halting earlier practice runs to let a mother duck and her ducklings cross the Belle Isle racetrack. Castroneves went on to finish fifth in the IZOD IndyCar Series, reclaiming his championship lead over fellow Grand Prixmiere attendee Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Between the bantering, Dario Franchitti congratulated Roger Penske and his team on their strong finish at the INDY 500. Other drivers in attendance were: AJ Allmendinger, Will Power, Enzo Potolicchio, Stéphane Sarrazin, Andy Pilgrim, Johnny O’Connell and Pedro Lamy.
Motionsports artist, Bill Patterson, performed his “live art” by painting a vivid race scene in 30 minutes. Before the paint had time to dry, television personality Lila Lazarus and WXYZ General Manager, Ed Fernandez, began auctioning Patterson’s artwork along with another canvas painted earlier at Channel 7 studios.
To drive bids higher, Patterson offered winning bidders the opportunity to customize the paintings with their favorite race team’s insignia. Grand Prix drivers signed Patterson’s paintings, making them truly unique. His remarkable pieces brought in a combined $19,500.