Dear Detroit Grand Prix,

It’s fun to read the columns in the local papers reflecting on the Detroit Grand Prix and giving advice on how to make it better moving forward. That’s a great sign of things to come. Not just for the Detroit Grand Prix, but Detroit in general. Here’s a great event that we’re taking a vested interest in – and best of all, you’re actually listening to us. Imagine how much could get done in Detroit if people in positions to implement change actually listened.

As I walked in on Saturday there was Charles Burns, General Manager of the Grand Prix heading up the steps and checking every detail. Suit and tie? Nope. Just working his butt off to make sure it was right. Who can forget Bud Denker on the track last year fixing the track (sorry Bud, that’s got a five year life on it) – and how many know he was at the exit bridge apologizing to fans – nice to see Bud there this year saying thank you and see you next year.

I’m a big believer in “vibes” – the vibe at the Joe for a playoff game keeps you buzzing for days afterwards, the vibe when Bob Seger takes the stage is something you’ll carry with you for life, and the Detroit Grand Prix had that vibe.

My suggestions for next year?

  • Performances from artists/band during breaks in the racing (Brett Michaels at 2:00pm for an hour before the start of the Indy Racing League on Saturday would’ve been great)

  • Ask some of the series drivers to head up into the grandstands and shake hands, take pictures, hand out some shirts/hats (how cool would it be to see Dario Franchitti walking up to say hi and take a picture)

  • Celebrity race (like Long Beach) I’d love to see Kid Rock, Tim Allen and Erin Cummings ripping around the track. And considering that there’s actually eight Kid Rock’s (convinced they cloned him years ago), it shouldn’t be a problem.

  • Keep doing what you’re doing. So often in life we quit going in the right direction, and have no idea why. Focus on the positives and move forward.

Three days after Belle Isle, and I’m still thinking about the racing. How Johnny O’Connell drove the hell out of that Cadillac for the win, who is this Mike Conway guy and where did he find so much speed through the turns, what happened to EJ Viso’s car and who took a sharpie to Tony Kanaan’s hair?

Roger Penske, Bud Denker, Charles Burns, Merrill Cain and the hundreds of people that make this possible should have a big grin. Okay, that’s enough – now get back to work on next year’s race.

One last thing – and it involves Chevrolet. If you’re going to talk the talk, you better walk the walk – and you brought it. The perfect title sponsor for the race did everything right. The new Corvette as a pace car was stunning to watch (you know a car has a great look when people stop and stare, they were doing that all weekend) and to see the bowtie on the IRL cars felt right.

“A goal without a plan is just a wish”. The Detroit Grand Prix has a plan, and it’s fun to watch it develop into a world class race weekend.


Jim O’Brien