Detroit Grand Prix

The Chevrolet Belle Isle Detroit Grand Prix (as it is officially called) was held May 31-June 2, 2013.

It featured cars from the IZOD IndyCar Series, the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and the Pirelli World Challenge Championship Series. The track is 2.3 miles long and is actually temporary. It takes months to set up the full track area including paddock, bleachers, vendor area, and more.

Thanks to a random giveaway at work, Chris scored 2 tickets for Saturday along with parking, shuttle, and paddock access.

After some initial confusion on where to go (either the lot location changed or the map we received was wrong…) we pulled into a fenced but grassy parking spot on the south end of the Riverwalk.

It’s a bit rustic…

but at least it’s guarded.

We walked a little ways up the riverfront to our shuttle, which would bus us directly to Belle Isle.

early morning at the marina

these stone plaques were dotted along the walkway

a “Pure Michigan” moment

our bus

the bridge to Belle Isle

Once we arrived, we had our tickets scanned and got to keep them after.

practically all the info you need

First we checked out the vendors on hand:

scanner rental so you can listen in on the teams and other inside chatter

how fast can you put on a 6 point harness?

I grabbed a sticker from Made In Detroit:

MID shifter black

We headed towards the paddock area next, to have a look around.

There was a long line to check in, but it was moved along quickly. These tickets they did keep, so I was glad I snapped a photo earlier. We got a colored tyvek wristband for each checkpoint, so by the end of the day I looked like I was going to the weirdest rave ever.

This was my first time to any large race event, and certainly the first to the Grand Prix. I rented a monstrously huge lens that weighed 5 lbs and was grateful at that moment that I’d decided to keep the monopod I’d purchased last year.

I have shot on the track (yes, on the grassy area inside the track) for the WHRRI raceway in Waterford so I was super excited to walk around the paddock area of such a large setup.

the track layout

it was really cool seeing the travelling workshops that get set up for these things

sadly, they missed an opportunity and I saw no RC available

of course, with the last name Castle I immediately perk up seeing a dragon logo

even the pull out barriers were emblazoned with flying dragons

man, those tires are huge!

Then we come around to the Mazda paddock, and stalk them for a while. For those new to the blog – we own a Mazda 6, a Mazda 3, and have a RX-7 disassembled in the garage as the current project car.

car #00 driver – Tristan Nunez

one of the IndyCars gets towed to its paddock after the practice run

because all golf carts need a mustache

of course, I had to get a shot of the Quicken Loans car

Lunchtime! We split a chicken schwarma which was deliciously saturated in garlic.

We then decided to head over to the bleachers and settle in for the first race. Sadly, despite it costing $10 for the souvenir book, it did not explain the actual goings on of the day.

That included the “fan walk” which was the ability to walk through the pit area! :crying:

Nonetheless – I was able to pick out some nice shots from the sidelines thanks to the lens I rented.

we had grandstand 3, which had a great view of the starting line and first corner

the pace cars take a few laps with some lucky guests

a good number of Quicken Loans employees were on-hand as volunteers to make sure everything went smoothly for the fans

the cars are barely warmed up and a caution flag is thrown due to a collision

the bright afternoon sun really shows off the agressive styling on the 6

By the end of the first race I was getting toasty, even with sunscreen, so we decided to head out. I would like to see some kind of awning over the bleachers, since I’m not allowed to open a parasol (understandably given the tight quarters), in the future. I was grateful that the day still had a bit of cloud cover and cooler than average temps.

It was a lovely day and a great event, and one that everybody should check out.

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