This year’s Detroit Grand Prix on Belle Isle has been canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak. The race was scheduled to be held on the last weekend of May.
The philanthropic Grand Premiere Gala that traditionally accompanies the race weekend is also canceled, proceeds from which usually go to the Belle Isle Conservancy’s annual budget for island improvements.
“We really didn’t want to get in the way of all the events that get planned on Belle Isle in the fall.” – Michael Montri, Detroit Grand Prix
Grand Prix president Michael Montri says race officials waited as long as they could to make the call.
“We’re certainly disappointed we can’t have it for 2020,” Montri said. “But more importantly, we just hope that the safety and welfare of everyone in the city and everyone in the state and everyone in the region takes care of themselves here.”
Montri says officials tried to find an alternative date for the Grand Prix but could not make the logistics work.
“We really didn’t want to get in the way of all the events that get planned on Belle Isle in the fall,” said Montri.
He says those who purchased tickets for the event can receive a refund or roll the ticket over to next year’s race.
Click on the player above to hear Michael Montri, Grand Prix President, on cancelled the 2020 race.
Alex McLenon, 101.9 WDET: What went into the decision to cancel the Grand Prix?
Michael Montri, Detroit Grand Prix President: Obviously the current situation is devastating on so many levels. We wanted to make sure that we weren’t interfering with anything that was a bigger picture than the Grand Prix.
We waited until the last minute to make the call for a couple reasons. It was pretty evident not too long ago that the end of May wasn’t going to work just because of the state of this pandemic. We were looking to find an alternate event date later into the fall that might work, and through various ups and downs in that process we ultimately determined that it wasn’t going to be possible for 2020.
There was some talk about rescheduling the event for a potential October date. What kind of obstacles stood in the way there?
Yeah, there were multiple stakeholders and we consulted very closely with all of them. Not only the City of the Detroit and state of Michigan through the Department of Natural Resource, but also our racing leagues, teams, and sponsors. In the end, logistically it just wouldn’t work.
One of the main things that we really didn’t want to get in the way of is all of the events that get planned on Belle Isle in the fall. I knew there were a lot events on Belle Isle, but I learned just how many there were. To get into it with people who have been planning weddings and reunions for specific dates in the fall – we just didn’t want to get in the way of any of that. So we made what we unfortunately think is the right decision in having to cancel for this year.
About one third of Belle Isle’s annual funding comes from not only the race weekend, but also the Grand Premier Gala that goes along with it. Have there been any talks about trying to reschedule that, or doing something to make up for the money lost there?
We’re focusing on 2021. I gotta believe that by the time we’re all around for next year’s event that all of our partners and everyone that contributes to the race weekend, the Belle Isle Conservancy, and to Belle Isle in general, will be more than generous. For this year without the event we’re looking at different opportunities there, but certainly nothing that’s concrete.