DETROIT -- It has been five years since the Motor City has staged a major auto race. Now, Detroit is welcoming back open-wheel racing, with the IndyCar and American Le Mans series adding the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix to their 2007 schedules.
The races, announced Friday by Roger Penske and Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, will be held on Belle Isle, a park on the Detroit River. The American Le Mans race will be run Sept. 1 and the IndyCar race a day later.
Kilpatrick said the city deserves another big-time event after the success of baseball's 2005 All-Star game and this year's Super Bowl.
"I remember the Grand Prix coming through the streets of Detroit, then on Belle Isle. It always presented itself as one of the great events of our city," Kilpatrick said.
The race course will cover about 2 miles of roadway on the island's western tip, leaving the rest of the island open to the public.
"There's infrastructure that was in place from the last race," Penske said. "There will be some tweaks that we'll make so it will be easier to pass," Penske said.
He and Kilpatrick also said the course will provide more viewing points to spread fans around more than the last race.
Detroit hosted Formula One races on downtown streets from 1982 to 1988. CART raced on the street circuit in 1989 before the Grand Prix moved to Belle Isle in 1990.
After the 20th Detroit Grand Prix in 2001, the contract expired between Championship Auto Racing Teams and International Management Group, the promoter.
Penske, whose racing teams have won the Indianapolis 500 14 times, chaired the city's host committee for the Super Bowl. He has been talking publicly for several months about returning racing to Detroit.
"I think the opportunity to come back to the city to race is very important," Penske said. "This is Motown, we are a racing city, we know about cars and our people love cars."
The Detroit Grand Prix will be the next-to-last race of the IndyCar Series. It will be the first Detroit appearance for the American Le Mans Series.
Profits from the races will go directly to Belle Isle improvements, Penske said.
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