The best IndyCar drivers in the world have landed on Belle Isle for warm up laps and time trials ahead of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix.
One driver in particular has a target on his back in the 30th annual race.
French driver Simon Pagenaud leads the NTT IndyCar series in points going into the Detroit Grand Prix and is fresh off a memorable weekend in Indianapolis.
"The milk was like a mask on my face and then everything got quiet,” says Pagenaud. “And the claps stopped and a realization that the milk was just pouring on my face and I just won the Indy."
Since that moment, a whirlwind week, his number 22 Chevy is now being prepped for a big weekend in Detroit, driving for Team Penske.
"It's Roger's backyard, right, its Chevy town and we have a big task ahead of us with two races,” says Pagenaud. “Its obviously going to be very physical."
Penske teammate Will Power won the Indy 500 in 2018 and is ready for a street fight in Detroit.
“Yeah, it’s the most brutal weekend we do all year,” he says. “It’s a double header on just an insane street course, lots of bumps, very physical, but seriously fun. Seriously fun."
Race organizers had to fight to keep the race on Belle island this year. After a series of public meetings, the Detroit Grand Prix inked a deal with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for at least the next three years.
They also made a promise to shorten the length of time spent setting up and busting down the race course, a task that took 95 days in 2015.
“We've taken 30 days out of the set up and tear down to just 60 days,” says Roger Penske. “We're trying to be sure we don't interrupt anyone's fun time on Belle Isle."
That’s not an easy task, especially with this wet spring.
"We have been challenged with the weather with set up," says race president Michael Montrei.
Water levels in the Detroit River are cresting along the shores, much higher than normal, but Montrei says the island is ready for an expected 100,000 visitors over the weekend.
"Just to see all the folks start to come, teams start to show up the displays, plans and you and the team were making for a year come to fruition, that's the coolest part," says Montrei.
Here’s a full schedule of events.
The City of Windsor renewed its partnership with the Detroit Grand Prix for this year.
The $50,000 partnership gets the city access to the event, naming rights for the media centre, the Canadian grandstand and special ticket packages for Canadians.
Canadian ticket packages include access to fan zones and round trip shuttle service to Belle Isle with Transit Windsor.May 31, 2019