Detroit Grand Prix organizers say the June event on Belle Isle will be held over two weekends for the first time next year.
International Motor Sports Association cars will race over the Grand Prix’s traditional dates while IndyCar will compete on new dates roughly one week later. Michael Montri, president of the event, says hosting two major series on different weekends will give race organizers more options to avoid cancelling the event.
“Nobody really knows what the world’s going to look like next year,” Montri says. ”This gives us flexibility to space folks out over the course of two weekends.”
Click on the player above to hear Belle Isle Grand Prix President Michael Montri on the switch to two weekends in 2021.
Montri says both weekends will occur within the 59 day window mandated in its contract with Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Critics fault the Grand Prix for limiting access to parts of Belle Isle for constructions of the track and facilities — and for the environmental impact.
“We will not lengthen the time it takes to set up or tear down,” Montri says. ”We’re bound by those 59 days and we’re going to be well within that parameter.”
He says having a dedicated weekend for each series means they can better distribute infrastructure so that less grass needs to be reseeded.
The switch to two weekends should still allow for scheduling between the two other sports car races — the Indy 500 and 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“It’s important to have a race on the weekend after the Indy 500 to capitalize on the ratings boost that the Indy 500 brings,” Montri says. “For the past number of years Belle Isle has been that week-after race.”
But this may not be a permanent switch for the event.
“We’re taking it one year at a time here trying to get to 2021,” Montri says. ”2020 was a tough year for everybody.”