DiZinno: Detroit’s determination, event’s effort shine through on a gloomy weekend


In the moment on Sunday, exhaustion and frustration reigned. Even if the rain itself didn’t.

The post-May, post-Indianapolis 500 hangover is real, and it was obvious throughout the Verizon IndyCar Series paddock that the run to Belle Isle Park in Detroit straight after a full month at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is arguably one of the toughest challenges of the season.

There was already enough of a challenge for all the crews, in the days after a 500-mile race, to swap the cars back over from super speedway to street course specifications if it was the same car, or to bring back their road and street course chassis after the ‘500.

Then there’s the fact that for most crew members, they’re leaving the comforts of home and going back on the road. Detroit, Texas and Toronto follow in succession and complete a brutal run of 10 consecutive working weekends for the series.

Then note that this prep work was done in advance of the lone doubleheader race of the season.

Then add how ridiculous the second half of race two was, with seven cautions in 33 laps and contact occurring around every bend.

Add in the persistent on-and-off rain, severe temperature drops, and you have the ingredients for what on paper should have been a miserable weekend in Detroit.

And yet, it wasn’t.

Challenging? Certainly. Chaotic? At times. Perplexing? Definitely, depending on what strategy you were on in either of Saturday or Sunday’s Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Presented by Quicken Loans.

But miserable? No, not really.

At the end of the day, Detroit was not the showcase race IndyCar needed following a thrilling Indianapolis 500, but then again, it’s its own showcase for an entirely different reason.

Detroit and Indianapolis cannot be compared side-by-side other than the fact Detroit is now the event following Indianapolis.

Each must be looked at in its own context, now four years in to Detroit’s renewal back on the calendar, the week after Indy.

Indianapolis boiled down to arguably the most exciting three-way battle for the win in the event’s 99-year history.

Detroit, meanwhile, featured seemingly all but three cars in with a shot at a win or podium contention over both days. There were 17 of the 23 starters who scored at least one top-10 finish in one of the two Detroit races (the six who didn’t: Tony Kanaan, Sage Karam, Charlie Kimball, James Jakes, Stefano Coletti and Rodolfo Gonzalez).

Indianapolis ended with drivers from Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing sweeping the top four positions.

Detroit saw six different drivers from five different teams score a podium finish, and witnessed two more first-time winners this season in Carlos Munoz and Sebastien Bourdais on the top step of the podium.

Indianapolis showcased speed. Detroit showcased strategy.

Indianapolis plays to pageantry. Detroit plays to the automotive sector, particularly General Motors in its home race.

Indianapolis is entrenched as an event, with an audience so much bigger than any other event on the calendar.

Detroit is on its way back as an event, and the efforts and dedication of all the Detroit Grand Prix staff must be noted. Their enthusiasm and positivity in the wake of trying, miserable conditions is to be commended – as are the fans who stuck it out both days. The efforts of Bud Denker and the Penske Corporation show through in what is a first-class event in nearly every facet.

For Detroit’s sake, it was a shame the weather was what it was this past weekend, which dampened the overall vibe. But those involved made the best of it as possible.

Suddenly half the season is already in the books, and the final eight race weekends of the year beckon over the next three months.

Detroit was not the best weekend of the season for IndyCar, but it was made a lot better than it could have been given all the collective efforts of the team crews, who put together the cars for two races, and the event staff, who fought through trying circumstances.

IndyCar disappointed by delay of video game but aiming to launch at start of 2024

IndyCar video game 2024

An IndyCar executive said there is “absolutely” disappointment that its long-awaited video game recently was delayed beyond its target date, but the series remains optimistic about the new title.

“Well, I don’t know how quick it will be, but the whole situation is important to us,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said during a news conference Monday morning to announce IndyCar’s NTT title sponsorship. “Motorsport Games has spent a lot of money, a lot of effort to create an IndyCar title. What we’ve seen of that effort, which is not completely obvious, is very reassuring.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding. That’s our shared objective, that when it is released, it’s just widely accepted. A great credit both to IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something that our fans love.”

In June 2021, IndyCar announced a new partnership with Motorsport Games to create and distribute an IndyCar video game for the PC and Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2023.

But during an earnings call last week, Motorsport Games said the IndyCar game had been delayed to 2024 to ensure high quality.

Somewhat compounding the delay is that IndyCar’s license for iRacing expired after the end of the 2022 season because of its exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games.

That’s resulted in significant changes for IndyCar on iRacing, which had provided a high-profile way for the series to stay visible during its 2020 shutdown from the pandemic. (Players still can race an unbranded car but don’t race on current IndyCar tracks, nor can they stream).

That’s helped ratchet up the attention on having a video game outlet for IndyCar.

“I wish we had an IndyCar title 10 years ago,” said Miles, who has been working with the organization since 2013. “We’ve been close, but we’ve had these I think speed bumps.”

IndyCar is hopeful the Motorsports Game edition will be ready at the start of 2024. Miles hinted that beta versions could be unveiled to reporters ahead of the time “to begin to show the progress in a narrow way to make sure we’ve got it right, to test the progress so that we’re ready when they’re ready.”

It’s been nearly 18 years since the release of the most recent IndyCar video game for console or PC.

“(We) better get it right,” Miles said. “It’s something we’re very close to and continue to think about what it is to make sure we get it over the line in due course.”