We wrote after the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix weekend was in the books that even if there wasn’t a massive turnout of fans, it was still a very successful, well-run weekend as a whole.
Well, for the weekend, there was a very large turnout of fans, per estimates released Wednesday by the event.
Weekend attendance numbers were estimated at 110,000 fans over the course of the three-day event. The estimates included approximately 25,000 fans for Comerica Bank Free Prix Day, just under 40,000 in attendance on Saturday and a little over 45,000 people on Sunday. The total represents the highest attendance since the Grand Prix returned to Detroit in 2007.
“It was a remarkable weekend for everyone at the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix,” said Bud Denker, Chairman of the Grand Prix. “The numbers are impressive but the true value was in the smiles on people’s faces as they experienced the event and all that Belle Isle has to offer. Our beautiful waterfront shined like never before. But the true champion here is Belle Isle as the investments and improvements made to the island this year by the Grand Prix will be in place for citizens to use on a daily basis for years to come.”
Denker also paid tribute to General Motors’ domination, sweeping the five races it was entered in.
“Of course, the icing on the top was to have General Motors win five races held during the weekend,” he said. “We want to thank all the fans that came to the event and allowed us to set new attendance records and our sponsors, who made the event possible. Without Chevrolet, Cadillac, Quicken Loans and many others, this event would not occur. Our job now is to make the 2015 Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Pix, which will again include two Verizon IndyCar Series races, even better.”
MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.
Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
- 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
- 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish
Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.
While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.
Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.
Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.
In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.