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Detroit GP Confirmed for 2019 in New Three-Year Extension

Detroit GP reaches agreement with Michigan Department of Natural Resources for Belle Isle race…

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

The Detroit Grand Prix and Michigan Department of Natural Resources have reached an agreement for the annual event to continue on Belle Isle for at least three more years.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Grand Prix will return to its home on Belle Isle through 2021, with an option for extending the agreement two additional years through 2023.

Friday’s confirmation comes one week after the release of the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship calendar, which had the June 1 race listed as to-be-confirmed due to the ongoing negotiations, which have now been finalized. 

A number of key changes will be mad under the new agreement to “positively impact” Belle Isle Park, including a reduction of the event’s build out and post-event take down times to 60 days next year and 59 days in 2020 and 2021.

The Grand Prix will also increase its annual total contribution for hosting the event on Belle Isle from $200,000 to $450,000 for each year, including an annual $325,000 event fee and a contribution of $125,000 annually to be used by the MDNR for specific projects on Belle Isle.

A fundraising event will also continue to be hosted on the Friday night of the event weekend, with proceeds going to the Belle Isle Conservancy for improvements on the island.

“We are excited that the Detroit Grand Prix will continue at Belle Isle for the next several years and we want to thank the State of Michigan for working with us on this new agreement, as well as our partners with City of Detroit and the Belle Isle Conservancy,” said Bud Denker, Chairman of the Grand Prix.

“This event means so much to Detroit, to Windsor and our entire community. We are proud to showcase the beauty of Belle Isle around the world every year and to make such a positive impact on the local economy with over $50 million in total spending generated annually as a result of the Grand Prix.

“Most importantly, we want to continue our goal of improving Belle Isle Park. The Grand Prix has made over $13.5 million in improvements on the island over the last decade and we know there’s still a lot more work that needs to be done.

“Our team looks forward to building on all of the positive momentum and being part of the remarkable renaissance going on at Belle Isle.”

The latest news, photos and video features from the trusted Sportscar365 web staff.



  1. Steven

    August 10, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    And the 5 fans who attend the event rejoice.

    Long Beach and Detroit should be removed and let Road America and Laguna Seca be 4-5 hour races.

    • David Chaste

      August 10, 2018 at 6:06 pm

      Long Beach: the largest market imsa visits

      Detroit: the home race for the manufacturer with the most involvement in the series, and the highest profile team.

      Not to forget these are the only 2 races imsa has had broadcasted live in entirety on national tv.

      It’s true they are really not the best races to showcase the series, but a Detroiter can only be glad to keep his home race. 😀

    • Speaking not for Scott Atherton, just common sense

      August 10, 2018 at 8:48 pm

      Let’s get this straight — the suggestion is to skip:

      -The two car culture capitals of the U.S., as well as the #2 media market

      -The home of the world headquarters for GM and Ford

      -The home race for Honda’s North American headquarters plus HPD, as well as Mazda’s U.S. base

      -A Long Beach race weekend that draws 185,000 attendees, many of whom may not be diehard racing fans, but are car enthusiasts, and spend money on that hobby, for an event that would be lucky to draw 20% of that crowd.

      Road America is the premier road course in the U.S., and Laguna Seca has the history, no doubt, but longer races there at the expense of the other two will not reach as wide of an audience, help grow the sport, or why GM, Ford, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Porsche, Continental, Michelin, WeatherTech, and others spend large sums of money to participate in IMSA.

      Sure about that?

      • Dave

        August 10, 2018 at 9:30 pm

        I think Steven is referring to the relative un-IMSA nature of the tracks themselves. They are more like Formula E tracks in that they feature catch fence tunnels with no good sight lines for spectators. Any viewing of the track is done from grandstands. This is really any street course. I hear most people in Long Beach are kind of pissed off at the streets being shut down, but that’s from a friend of ours that lives there who isn’t into racing – so take it FWIW. INDY car is the headliner on the Long Beach Weekend. My point is that yes these events are in big markets, but at TERRIBLE tracks that don’t serve the series well.

      • Steven

        August 10, 2018 at 9:48 pm

        You do know that IMSA is a secondary race towards a historic race that is the IndyCar Long Beach GP. What I would want to know is what kind of cut does IMSA actually receive from the IndyCar ticket sales to justify making all the P and GTLM haul all their equipment across the country for a 2 hour race in a one month span after Sebring?

        Sebring and Petit get over 100K and those tracks are in the middle of nowhere compared to a street circuit right in a city that has 450K people.

        As for Detroit, it’s a race that isn’t needed (so quantity over quality). Heck, even GTLM doesn’t race there because IMSA has it scheduled against the 24 Hours of Le Mans test day.

        • David Chaste

          August 11, 2018 at 12:54 am

          Imsa doesnt need to get a cut from anything. But they get paymemy from the city or the promotional company. The national tv exposure more than makes up for for the costs. The factory teams in imsa would race for free in imsa if every race was broadcasted on national tv. The old ALMS did not have a purse for factory teams because every race was live on speed TV, which was a basic cable subscription channel.

        • You think small, you get small

          August 11, 2018 at 7:11 am

          IMSA isn’t running a lemonade stand. It sanctions a NATIONAL racing series involving large multinational OEMs and a title sponsor that collectively invest hundreds of millions of dollars in their racing programs. For that, they expect a certain level of exposure, to a specific audience, and in the markets they desire. Otherwise they would not be participants.

          And yet you’re worried about the costs for a couple haulers to drive across the country to run a race?

          Do you really believe these companies and the teams they support are actually too stupid to budget, and unknowingly entered a series where they’ll have to traverse the U.S. and into Canada? That they don’t know what they’re signing up for, in terms of costs to compete in such a championship?

          What is it with some people on this site who seem to think IMSA is running a regional club race series constrained by how much gas they can afford to put in the truck, with some beer money left over? SMH

          • Steven

            August 11, 2018 at 8:00 am

            IMSA would still be a national series even if they removed those two sprint races. They already have 2 other events in the mid-west (Mid-Ohio, Road America) and in California (Laguna Seca).

            I’m just saying logistically, its a pointless race for P and GTLM teams have to shakedown and rebuild their cars from Sebring, send them across the entire country for a 1hour, 40 minute race only to have to haul them all back to get another shakedown and travel to Mid-Ohio the next month.

            Now a days, all companies want everything streamlined to avoid unnecessary costs. While all the teams have no problem getting their cars out there in the respected timeframe, I’m sure they aren’t too happy with having to do it though.

            When IMSA doesn’t have all three classes racing together, I find those events to be pointless. Detroit doesn’t even have their biggest OEM supporters at the race track as GTLM are all at Le Mans test day.

          • Dave

            August 11, 2018 at 9:00 am

            You might be surprised by how close it is to being a lemonade stand for many GTD and some P2 teams. That’s why they skip certain races.

      • Andy Flinn

        August 11, 2018 at 11:44 am

        Common sense, you are 100 percent correct and I agree with you completely.

        However, Steven, is not really an IMSA fan. He prefers the global spec LMP2 format in the WEC and the ELMS and would not mind if the DPi concept and IMSA fail.

        He implies in other posts that the recent two-DPi announcement for JDC-Miller and Gainsco in 2019 is a letdown because they are Cadillacs and not Hyundais.

        And for some reason everything must be based on how things are done – even if spec and boring (WEC LMP2 spec engines and Oreca domination) – in Europe.

        • Steven

          August 11, 2018 at 2:31 pm

          Excuse me? Are you trying to put words in my mouth?

          I didn’t say any of that. I’m just not a fanboy like you that has a hard-on for a certain class and organization. I fully understand that the 2017 regulations kicked out manufacture presence in LMP2 to bring the costs down for privateers who want to race in the prototype field.

          I still feel that the FIA should not have gotten involved and created a 4th racing series and should’ve kept the ILMC idea which combined the IMSA/ELMS/AsLMS schedule and helped each series for global popularity.

  2. Jeremy

    August 10, 2018 at 11:16 pm

    Coming from Canada and Having been to Detroit for five years in a row. I have to defend this race , over the years the 100 minutes has produced some really exciting racing for the fans to watch live. Yes I agree it’s not the most prestigious or fan friendly venue, but it serves a true purpose in the IMSA calendar to fill a void between early may-July for sports car racing in North America. The access to the shared Indy car and imsa paddocks is quite unique and the people of Detroit for the most part are so greatful to host . I’m all for it’s continuation. Sorry that you couch surfers find it boring, should try going live one day

    • Steven

      August 11, 2018 at 8:06 am

      So you are defending the race only because you go to the race? And yes, I’ve been to Road America and Road Atlanta multiple times with Mid-Ohio or Watkins Glen next so I’m not a couch surfer. IMSA paddocks are always free to walk through at every race so its not just a Detroit only thing.

      There are reason’s why there is a void during that time. May is for the Indy 500 and June is for the 24 hours of Le Mans. Two of the biggest racing events in the world globally.

      • Andy Flinn

        August 11, 2018 at 12:10 pm

        Yes Steven, Jeremy is defending the race in Detroit because he attends the race. I defend Sebring because I’ve been attending that IMSA race since 1978 – not because the WEC will be the support race at Sebring in 2019.

    • Andy Flinn

      August 11, 2018 at 12:04 pm

      Jeremy, according to Steven, your enjoyment of sports car racing and IMSA’s ability to schedule a race event for its teams, sponsors and fans MUST be put on hold for months (Steven’s proposed gap between Mid-Ohio and Watkins Glen) not only to accommodate Le Mans but now also the Le Mans test weekend.

      Their is no other option. This is the way it must be.

      (The WEC schedule once had a nearly THREE MONTH GAP between Le Mans and the next event. People “loved” it. The current TWO MONTH gap in the WEC “superseason” post-Le Mans is already long enough.)

      But accordng to some people, just like all areas of France are focused on Paris, apparently all sports car racing series must be focused on Le Mans – for months.

      • Steven

        August 11, 2018 at 2:44 pm

        You do understand that if IMSA raced solo events at Long Beach and Detroit, they’d be lucky to get 10K in attendance right. But you can complain how the WEC is by “piggy backing” off the Sebring popularity but you are silent when IMSA has to piggy back off of IndyCar for two races on the calendar.

        As for Detroit, for a race that is home to GM and Ford, it’s only fitting that the GTLM class (IMSA’s most popular class) skips the race for a more important test session for the most prestigious 24 hour race on the planet. IMSA should be racing all 3 classes at every event they schedule.

        There should be no problem with the 2 month racing hiatus in the series (especially when you have 2 of the 3 triple crown races spanning those 2 months). One class actually races in the 24 hours of Le Mans and many of the drivers in the other classes take part of the race in June.

  3. David Chaste

    August 11, 2018 at 12:43 am

    Those 2 races are not for the attending public. Its for the TV audience. They’re broadcasted live on national tv (millions watching). With imsa’s new nbc deal it will be an even larger audience.

    The tracks are nothing to write about but the size of the metropolitan areas makes the venues attractive.

    The deal expires right when penske’s acura deal expires. Roger penske had a hand in there.

    • Dave

      August 11, 2018 at 6:56 am

      Millions watching? I’d like to see the source info on that – or are you saying millions of people watch national TV and of those millions some are watching IMSA? NASCAR has been struggling this year to deliver viewers and they are on national TV as well, but have a much larger following than IMSA. (see, source info – easy) If IMSA thinks its future is in network TV broadcasts it is doomed. The good news is that with a VPN here in the states, or just access to the internet anywhere else in the world, you can watch live , uninterrupted coverage on IMSA TV. I go to 4 or 5 IMSA races a year, but I only watch the highlights of those two races because the short format takes most, if not all, of the strategy out of it. I was among the first to decry the replacement of COTA with Mid-Ohio, but I have to say, that track is much better for fans and a much better test of the driver’s skill. IMSA should race on the best tracks in North America

    • Andy Flinn

      August 11, 2018 at 12:19 pm

      David, as you know, Roger Penske has been a big supporter of Detroit and the Bell Isle event. I have a lot of respect for him. However, the ALMS, Grand-Am and IMSA all raced there long before his Acura DPi deal.

      There’s no reason to believe the race won’t continue.

  4. Slicks in the wet

    August 11, 2018 at 5:24 am

    The ONLY thing I hate about Long Beach and Detroit is the race length. So many times 100 minutes is JUST when things are getting exciting. I know they gotta pare it down a bit to slot into a 2 hour tv window…but man….it RUINS it.

    Even just getting an extra 20mins to a full 2 hours would be better.

  5. Jenner

    August 11, 2018 at 10:09 am

    People grip about WEC creating a scheduling conflict with Petit LeMans, what about IMSA scheduling Detroit so close to LeMans test day?

    GTLM teams can’t even race in their “home” race b/c of the conflict. Thank god Mr Patrick Lindsey was cool enough to fly a bunch of drivers in his private jet right after Detroit this year to get to LeMans just in the nick of time.

    Seems like a huge inconvienence just to be a 100 min warm up act.

    Also, move Laguna back to the Spring right after LB, it’s right up the coast, sweep the west coast in one trip. Make it a real race too, 4 hrs. 6 is even better like it was b4.

  6. Andy Flinn

    August 11, 2018 at 12:36 pm

    Jenner, the IMSA series and its teams, sponsors and fans should sit around and wait nearly TWO MONTHS (early May at Mid-Ohio to early July at Watkins Glen) to accommodate a Le Mans TEST WEEKEND?

    Are you serious?

    And yes the WEC is incompetent (or more likely just arrogant) for scheduling an event that they know conflicts with Petit Le Mans (already scheduled by IMSA for 2018 by and held in early October EVERY YEAR for the past 20 Years!) just to accommodate Fernando Alonso’s F1 schedule.

    • Jenner

      August 12, 2018 at 1:14 pm

      IMSA teams sit on their asses for a month and a half from Daytona to Sebring, then sit on their asses for another month from Sebring to LB, then sit on their asses almost another month until Mid-Ohio, then another month for Detroit.

      Looks to me like IMSA could easily cure the hemrroid issues many crew members are experiencing.

      Le Mans is the Crown Jewel of Sportscar racing, not Detroit. GM and Ford don’t even race their cars in Detroit, what’s that say to the world.

      Petit Le Mans 20 yrs old? Le Mans has been running since 1923. Do the math.

      • Andy Flinn

        August 12, 2018 at 6:28 pm

        “IMSA teams sit on their asses for a month and a half from Daytona to Sebring, then sit on their asses for another month from Sebring to LB….”
        — Jenner

        No, Jenner, that’s incorrect.

        IMSA took off seven weeks so that teams could fix their tortured equipment following a 24-hour race at Daytona. They teams also needed time to prepare for the next endurance torture test (12 Hours of Sebring). The WEC has been idle for over TWO MONTHS (NINE WEEKS) in order to recover from their 24-hour race (Le Mans) and prepare for the next event (6 hours at Silverstone). The WEC doesn’t have 12-hour races. That’s a big difference, even if you choose to ignore it.

        The bottom line is you STILL have no clue what IMSA should be doing for TWO MONTHS – except sitting around and waiting – between Mid-Ohio in early May and Watkins Glen in early June.

        All I hear from you is Le Mans blah, blah, blah.

        And what does Le Mans 1923 in the middle of June have to do with Petit Le Mans in October?

        I’ve already detailed for you the WEC’s incompetence (scheduling a WEC race that conflicts with the FIA F1 calendar) as well as their arrogance (in order to accommodate Alonso, scheduling a new WEC event date that conflicts with the IMSA Petit Le Mans, and THEN having the gall to ask IMSA to reschedule THEIR 20-year old event!)

        However, it all worked out the way it should. The WEC received the “NO” response from IMSA they deserved.

        • Jenner

          August 12, 2018 at 7:09 pm

          7 weeks to rebuild a car?

          These teams have rebuild completely destroyed cars overnight.

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