Detroit IndyCar organisers considering track changes
Thursday 8th June, 2023 - 12:12pm
Organisers of the Detroit Grand Prix will look into changes for IndyCar’s second year on the new street circuit in 2024.
The event moved back from Belle Isle to the CBD this year, on a track which had some commonality with that which hosted Formula 1 in Motor City.
However, the 1.645mi (2.647km) circuit was heavily criticised after practice and qualifying for being too narrow and far too bumpy, although it arguably raced far better than predicted.
Nevertheless, there appears room for improvement in a number of areas, including the braking zone for Turn 3, the hairpin located at the end of the longest straight and hence the prime passing opportunity.
Sections of the track were resurfaced or ground down before the weekend but Bud Denker, President of the Penske Corporation which promotes the Detroit GT, says further changes at Turn 3 will be a challenge.
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“There’s a reason there’s a bump; it’s because every one of those is an intersection that comes through Jefferson Avenue,” he explained.
“When you have an intersection come through a road, there’s always a little crown, just for drainage purposes of the road coming together perpendicular.
“The question will be how much can we remove those crowns while still having the effectiveness of what a state highway has to be.
“Those are all things that the state will help us look at because they’ve been great partners of ours.”
Team Penske driver Will Power, who drove from seventh to second place over the course of the 100-lapper, said it was difficult to try and execute a pass from the outside line at Turn 3.
“Second session you started to like [the circuit], like the challenge of it,” he said.
“Racing perspective, having that long straight with the hairpin is definitely good.
“I think next year if they resurface the second half of the straight, you would have more passing. It was tough to go on the outside.”
The Turn 8 run-off area, where a number of drivers stalled in practice, will also be widened in 2024.
Still, Denker reasoned that Detroit produced a good quantity of passing, consistent with the other street circuits which IndyCar has visited so far in 2023.
“Just the numbers, looking at the numbers here in front of me, we had the quality of racing,” he claimed.
“189 on-track passes, 142 were for position, which equals Long Beach. Long Beach had a hell of a race this year, right? We had the same number of for position passes.
“St Pete, which is a pretty good race, they had 170 on-track passes; we had 189. They had 128 for position, we had 142. Pretty good race.”
The Penske chief also hailed the Detroit GP as an event for fans, including those who took advantage of the areas where spectating was free.
“We didn’t disrupt any businesses,” stated Denker.
“No businesses were closed down because of our event. Think about that in a city like Detroit.
“The other thing was we had to put on a good show for the city and state. Anybody that was downtown this weekend saw three things: a clean city, a safe city and a very beautiful city. This riverfront is just amazing.
“I think we changed a lot of perceptions for our city.”
He added, “Jefferson Avenue is free. Riverfront is free. The fact we had people out there, thousands of them, that were lining up along that area to have the drivers and cheer for the drivers, was just a great idea.”
The IndyCar season continues at Road America on June 16-18 (local time).