The future of the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix is uncertain as the auto racing event’s contract with the Belle Isle State Park expires after this year’s running. Recent years have seen area residents, concerned with the environmental impacts of the race and frustrated with its lengthy build-up and tear-down, staging protests and mailing letters to city officials in an attempt to put an end to the annual event, which this year takes place from June 1st through the 3rd.
If not on the island of Belle Isle, it’s unclear just where, exactly, the races could be held. Race Chairman Bud Denker says that neither the Detroit city airport nor the former Michigan State Fairgrounds are viable options. He and other organizers hope to renew their deal with the state of Michigan, but no deal has yet been made.
Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones says she continues to receive correspondence from area residents less-than-thrilled that the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix is still ongoing. One letter read in part: “I am hoping we do not renew the Grand Prix… These are people I suspect never go to Belle Isle aside from the Grand Prix.”
Jones said that in essence, most complainants are “concerned about not being able to ride through Belle Isle because of all the fences.”
Ultimately, the decision of whether to renew the contract is up to the state, and not the city. The Belle Isle property is owned by the city of Detroit, but managed by the state of Michigan – an arrangement that came about while the city was still under an emergency manager as it attempted to navigate bankruptcy. The Belle Isle State Park is the most-visited state park in Michigan, counting 4.2-million visitors in 2017. Some 90k of those are thought to have been Grand Prix attendees.
(Source: Detroit Free Press)