IRL, IMSA and World Challenge, and the media circus that comes with it, rolled into Detroit for the Detroit Grand Prix this weekend. I was in town for the World Challenge double header weekend and IMSA's 100 minute endurance race. Unloaded Thursday and got to work. Going into any weekend I am ready to rock and excited to get to work. I love racing, I enjoy those that I work with and enjoy catching up with people I only see on weekends.
As the weekend progressed and now waiting to board a plane home all I can think of is the Detroit Blues. The day ended earlier than normal on Saturday and I had some time to explore the decay of Detroit and it immediately becomes a comparison to the current state of North American sportscar racing. IMSA had multiple withdrawals leading up to the event and at first one would fault the teams and immediately begin to blame funding issues. Post event I believe that the "PR Spin" wasn't spin. It was the truth. DeltaWing probably would not have done well on the streets and further testing betters their chances at the next race, Watkins Glen 6 Hour. Bar1 pulled their PC car late. Can one blame either for not coming to this race? A few prototypes and PC cars made up the 'headliners' of IMSA for the weekend which is a disappointment for fans and those following the sport. See the lead photo for the green flag photo and can see it is less than dramatic. World Challenge leading up to the event with less than normal entries posted a 'bonus' cash award for winning the races this weekend. Don't get me wrong both put on good racing and the show was great but the fields and choice of venues may need to be thought about for next season.
IMSA is pushing for GT3 cars to their ranks and I believe this will help a lot. IMSA also needs to make a 2017 announcement for their prototype decision to start helping teams plan budgets, seek sponsorship and look for funded drivers for those programs looking to do that. Waiting is only hampering their standing and not allowing advance planning. World Challenge, and IMSA, needs to rethink what venues and events they are putting on their schedule. Detroit is a market that seems to 'make sense' but the reality is most of the fans are coming to see Indy. IMSA or PWC didn't have a single "Corvette" on track and PWC has no Chevy branded products. They both are the premier North American series and at Detroit they are either the 2nd or 3rd support series. Time to create headline events at tracks where the cars are the show and not the tight confines of a street course. Let them breath!
Beyond that the World Challenge race on Sunday was canceled citing safety concerns and visibility. Unfortunately for the series it was the correct choice. With early season issues both on and off track having a negative weekend due to conditions would not be good. IMSA had to deal with this with a track worker injured after the checkered flag flew. It was similar to the tow trucks being released while the race was green earlier this month during World Challenge at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. Safety is of utmost important and these types of issues much be investigated and problems fixed.
Next up is Watkins Glen for IMSA and Road America for World Challenge. Will be covering both with MotorSportMedia so stay tuned for a report and images on both! Until next time!