The French had their best weekend in Detroit in almost 300 years. Two poles and a second place for Simon Pagenaud and a victory by Sebastien Bourdais in Race 1 made this a great weekend for the drivers from France. The racing was decent, not always the case here, and this event has grown and improved each of the three years I have been there. Before my first visit, I didn’t think much of the racing or the event here. Detroit did not seem like a place I cared to go to.
This past weekend I saw one really good race on Saturday and a decent race on Sunday. Both were fuel strategy races. Saturday featured great pit calls by Bourdais and Conor Daly. Daly’s call for fuel only on his last race nearly got him the win. Bourdais’s early pit stop and then exiting the pits ahead of everyone on his last stop sealed the win for him. Conor Daly’s second place was the highlight of the day for many fans. He could possibly win in Toronto if that race plays out in a similar fashion to this one.
Sunday’s race was more processional, probably due to the threat of rain ending before the start. Teams still employed different pit strategies, but the race didn’t allow them to work. it came down to pit cycles. An untimely yellow cost Helio Castroneves a victory as he had to pit during the caution. It’s the same thing that cost the Penske team a win at mid-Ohio last year. Not pitting when the pit window opens is a risky move. Will Power won with a great pass of Simon Pagenaud.
As for the Detroit event, It has the ingredients that make a city street race successful: first, buy-in not only from the city, but from the people who live and work there. The shuttle bus to the track on Friday was filled with people who were given the afternoon off by their employers to go out to the island. Many had chalet and suite passes.
Second, an army of friendly, welcoming volunteers. Detroit has the friendliest, most helpful volunteers of any track I go to. Fans receive a greeting when they arrive and a thank you when they leave. The volunteers are an important part of the buy-in from the community.
Another element that makes this event so much fun is the food court. Every year I have attended, the food choices have improved tremendously. This year offered many healthy choices, including fruit bowls, Greek food, and vegetable bowls. It was an upgrade from last year, which I thought was the best I’d ever seen at a track.
I was disappointed to not see any Alexander Rossi shirts in the Indycar merchandise tents. I don’t know if this is a league or team responsibility, but he was signed early enough to have shirts made. I would think Indycar would want some souvenirs with the Indy 500 winner’s name on it.
If you go to Detroit next year, Grandstand 2 is the place to be. Great view of the pits, the front straight, and turn 1.
Leaving after the race was greatly improved this year. Every bus in the state of Michigan was pressed into duty to get fans back to their cars downtown. Two years ago I stood in line for more than 90 minutes just to get on the bus. This year I was on a bus and headed downtown in about 40 minutes after leaving my seat.
I will watch the Texas race from home this weekend, but I will be at road America in just 17 days. RA is one of my bucket list tracks. To prevent total race car withdrawal, I will be going to IMS for the vintage racing meet Father’s day weekend. Pictures aplenty from there. Hopoe to have another post up by Friday at the latest.