Detroit Grand Prix rides from Belle Isle to downtown streets

A trio of Corvettes embarked from Belle Isle and crossed the MacArthur Bridge on Monday morning, briefly lapping the streets of the 2023 Detroit Grand Prix track.

Penske Corporation president and Grand Prix chairman Bud Denker and Team Penske racers Will Power and Josef Newgarden  parked their sports cars on the finish line at the intersection of Franklin Street and Schweizer Place.

They also shared their favorite memories of racing on Belle Isle, and looked ahead to the Grand Prix’s exciting return to its downtown roots next year.

SUNDAY’S RACE:Will Power wins Detroit Grand Prix on Belle Isle

“Imagine, 365 days or so from now, the sounds of those cars going through the streets,” Denker said. “It’s going to be an amazing turnover from Belle Isle. It’s a bittersweet memory, as the drivers will talk about, because the race track there is just so mega-amazing as well in terms of what it provides for competitive racing. But here we are.

(From left) Detroit Grand Prix president Michael Montri, Detroit Grand Prix chairman Bud Denker, Detroit City Council president Mary Sheffield, Grand Prix winner Will Power, Detroit Deputy Mayor Todd Bettison and IndyCar driver Josef Newgarden pose at the finish line with the three Corvettes used in the ceremony commemorating the Detroit Grand Prix's move from Belle Isle to downtown Detroit on Monday, June 6, 2022, at the new finish line at Franklin and Schweizer Place.

“And think about it: There are 12 cities in the world that have downtown racing. In the world. And we’re one of them now, to have racing on our streets. We are so delighted, we are so excited, we are so motivated to bring it to our city, and with that, I just can’t wait to get it going.”

Where will winners swim now?

Since 2018, the Detroit Grand Prix has used the James Scott Memorial Fountain for its podium backdrop. Denker and race sponsors invested $750,000 into the fountain for initial restoration in 2007 and replacing stolen parts in 2008, making for a tough breakup. Race officials have committed to continuing fountain maintenance despite vacating Belle Isle.

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Also in 2018, IndyCar Dual II winner Ryan Hunter-Reay started the tradition of dipping in the lower bowl of the fountain to celebrate the victory. Now the question is where the podium will rest in 2023 and how drivers will soak in their future wins.

Detroit City Council president Mary Sheffield talks about the Detroit Grand Prix's from Belle Isle to Detroit on Monday, June 6, 2022.

“I’m not sure any of us sitting here right now know what people are going to gravitate towards next year,” said Grand Prix president Michael Montri. “If I had to guess, I’d say that hairpin (by the Renaissance Center) is going to be pretty way up there. It’s going to be the most exciting part of the race course. “It is near (the Joe Louis “The Fist” monument) and it’s right at Hart Plaza, so that’s going to be a really popular part of the circuit. 

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