Detroit Grand Prix

Today’s question: What intrigues the most about the new-look Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear this weekend, as the race circuit moves from Belle Isle to downtown Detroit?

Curt Cavin: I’m eager to see how the downtown layout makes for a great fan experience, with more than half of the course area free and open to all. The racing was always good at Belle Isle, particularly over the past decade, but the island, while picturesque, was disconnected from the city, requiring a massively coordinated effort to bus in people. I always applauded the committed fan base for dealing with that, but that certainly won't be an issue now. This week, people will find so many opportunities to draw close to the event and be entertained by racing, music and activation, and I think this grand prix will become another model for prospective promoters of NTT INDYCAR SERIES events. Bottom line: I expect the phrase “Penske Perfect” to be evident to all.

Joey Barnes: There are several intriguing things that come with going to a new circuit, and there’s plenty to look at when it comes to the 1.7-mile, 10-turn street layout in downtown Detroit. The one thing that stands out above the rest, to me at least, is the double pit lane that drivers and teams will need to navigate. Not only is it likely to be a challenge to make it to pit lane coming off the 90-degree penultimate corner of the racetrack, but figuring out how to position your car to minimize the time pulling in and out of a pit stall for service will be interesting. Even then, pulling out is certainly going to be chaotic in the funnel down to the exit and back to the course, too. Combine that with half the field split with fueling probes and how the crew services the car in the box, which creates some extra work for some of the teams in the buildup of the event, and there are plenty of opportunities to see chaos unfold. So, it’ll be interesting to see who gets it right. Who knows, maybe it’ll provide an opportunity to see a first-time winner.

Paul Kelly: I’m intrigued by the circuit itself. This is the first all-new track for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES since the streets of Nashville joined the schedule in 2021, and like Nashville, this track has some unique features. The double pit lane that Joey mentioned is intriguing, but the lack of flowing, smooth, high-speed corners – these are city streets in a grid pattern, after all – will place a premium on braking performance entering turns and traction exiting turns. That combination separates the good from the great in terms of drivers and engineers. Bravery also is a vital part of that equation, especially under braking. We’ll learn quickly who is the King of the Late Brakers in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES after the blast down the long straightaway down East Jefferson Avenue into almost a double-apex hairpin corner known as Turn 3. This circuit also is interesting because the start line and finish line are in different locations on the track, similar to Nashville. The finish line is on Franklin Street, adjacent to the pits, but the start line is midway through the super-fast East Jefferson Avenue straightaway. Let’s hope the drivers don’t forget that!