Hitting the Apex: Detroit Grand Prix

IndyCar returns to the streets of Detroit! ATRL’s Eline Luna takes a look at Detroit Grand Prix this weekend.

Eline Luna

June 3, 2023

This weekend IndyCar returns to Detroit, a city the series has raced in for over 30 years. Since 1992 the series has raced at a temporary circuit on Belle Isle, an island in the Detroit River, for the Detroit Grand Prix. However this year, the race returns to its original home on the streets of downtown Detroit for the first time since 1991.

While a small part from the original 2.5 miles track is incorporated, most of the layout is new. Only two of the original corners are repurposed for the new circuit, which also makes it significantly smaller than the original layout of 22 corners.

Karl Zemlin/Penske Entertainment

The track is characterized by its mostly 90 degree corners which could prove tricky for the drivers. Another important aspect to look out for is the starting line. The start line and the finish line are situated at different parts of the track. The finish line is on the straight parallel to the pitlane while the starting line is on the long straight right before Turn 3. The Turn 3 hairpin will be able to create many overtaking opportunities as the long starting straight will have drivers blasting down the streets before having to slam on the brakes to get through the next corner.

The Pitlane

An IndyCar pitlane is typically around 1000 feet in length. However, this weekend it is unique in the fact that the pitlane will only be 500 feet. This means half of the grid will be served on the right side of the pitlane and the other half on the left.

This change in pitlane setup will likely create tense moments as cars will try to merge back into the fast lane from both sides. While this could mean positions are easily gained, some may also be lost during the pit cycle, creating a need for interesting strategies.

Championship Fight

Alex Palou continues in his lead, having finished no worse than 8th this season. Marcus Ericsson follows him at a 20 point distance while Pato O’Ward is 14 points behind Ericsson. This year’s Indianapolis 500 winner, Josef Newgarden, is 3 points adrift from that.

Championship leader Alex Palou after winning the GMR Grand Prix last month (Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment)

As always, points aren’t only earned by finishing positions but also by leading laps and pole position. Anyone that leads a lap gains a point and whoever leads most can write two to their name. Pole position will also reward the driver with an additional point.

Track Layout for 2023:

Race Info:

  • Race Length: 100 Laps/ 170 Miles
  • Turns: 9
  • Track Length: 1.7 Miles
  • Most Wins: N/A (new track)
  • Race lap record: N/A (new track)

Past Winners in Downtown Detroit

  • 1991: Emerson Fittipaldi

  • 1990: Michael Andretti

  • 1989: Emerson Fittipaldi

Past Winners of the Detroit Grand Prix

  • 2022: Will Power
  • 2021: Pato O’Ward
  • 2021: Marcus Ericsson

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eline follows a variety of motorsports from Formula E to IMSA to Nascar to WEC. They hope to study Mechanical Engineering to work in motorsports one day.

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