It’s easy to tell people that Detroit is a great city and they should come down and find something to experience. It’s quite difficult to get suburbanites and out-of-towners to actually do that, though. There is sometimes fear, maybe even doubt that they will enjoy themselves.
Recently, Detroit hosted the Grand Prix on Belle Isle, and I experienced one of the best events I have ever attended, and now all I can do is tell people about it, in hopes that they will attend next year.
More importantly, I just want to prove to people that this city is making a comeback in a big way, and we have what it takes to be the city people desire.
Now I know not everyone can have the backing of Roger Penske, which was a large part of why the Grand Prix was such a success. Sometimes it takes a wealthy, vested business person to get things done around here. I don’t know how involved Penske really was in the overall planning of this thing, but from the shuttles to the food trucks, everything was stellar.
It started with the weather, which I understand has nothing to do with a human element. But what can beat a 75 degree day with no clouds on the Detroit River? It was glorious – 3 days in a row. Parking was easy and economical; just $10.
Shuttles were clean, cool, and quick, lined up and ready to take people to Belle Isle at all hours of the day. Upon arrival on the island, workers and volunteers were there to control buses, greet spectators, and direct people to the race. Security was easy, as was ticket check in. There was an abundance of outhouses, which is one of the more important things at this type of event.
Belle Isle looked AMAZING. That was all-caps, people. It was so wonderful to see. There were people there to help every step of the way, whether it was to direct you to the grandstands, or to give you free
crap t-shirts. There was plenty of food, and more than enough activity. It was fun for all ages, and it was exciting to see families there.
The races were of course the stars of the weekend. But as I was sitting in the grandstand on that Saturday, and watching the footage on the big screen in front of me, I noticed the aerial shots of the city and Belle Isle. No one could deny how gorgeous Detroit looked. I am sure those watching at home all over the country thought we were lucky to be there. Lucky to be in Detroit. That’s something that you don’t think every day. Well, I do. But it’s the fact that now others might think it that makes me proud.
Maybe racing isn’t for everyone, but I bet having a fabulous time is something everyone might like. And that’s really all I am trying to get at here. For so long we have been trying to be a “real” city. We pine for Chicago weekends on the water or New York-style nights on the town.
But you guys, we ARE a real city. And this is just one clear example of that. Even the drivers that were here for the Dual in Detroit were happy to be here. Helio Castroneves, famed driver and Penske team member, tweeted that this was a great city. He also could have been happy from winning the second race of the weekend, but it’s still great PR for Detroit.
So here were are, Detroit. I believe we are a city worth a damn, that plenty of people should want to visit. And this is just one example of our greatness. Thanks to all of those who helped make the Grand Prix possible, and thanks to all of you who attended. It was perfect.