DETROIT — The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear hosted a media event luncheon at the Roostertail in downtown Detroit. It featured Simon Pagenaud of Team Penske and other championship drivers. Simon won his first Indy 500 race so a big congratulations to him.
Ricky Taylor who drives the No. 7 Acura Team Penske and has had three consecutive wins at Long Beach, Circuit of the Americas and on Belle Isle was on hand for my interview. Taylor, the son of sports car champion Wayne Taylor, gave Acura Team Penske the first win in team history when he and co-driver Helio Castroneves took the pole position and Taylor took the checkered flag in a historic 1-2 finish at the Acura Sports Car Challenge in Ohio.
“I started racing at age 10 in go-carts and moved to cars at age 16. To prepare him for the race, he sometimes wears a heart monitor for driver analysis studies. It gives you an idea of the exertion you go through. I am looking forward to the race at the Grand Prix. It’s my sixth or seventh year coming here. It is always nice to come here.”
In rain, we have special rain tires with a softened compound grip to grip the track better. On the turns, there is a gear difference depending on the condition of the track,” Taylor added.
Pipo Derani is a Brazilian currently driving a Cadillac (No. 31) for Action Express Whelen Engineering Cadillac team. How does he like driving on Belle Isle? “The track is challenging here with the walls being close. I have to be more careful in the race but it’s the same for every race. It is extra challenging in the rain, but I have done very well in the rain.”
“I am racing with a fellow Brazilian, Felipe Nasr, who I have known since my karting days. He’s a great driver and my expectations are really high for this partnership,” added Derani.
Dave Hoogendoom, Assurance Partner, Mobility Sector Market with Ernst & Young says “The key to racing is about being connected. This luncheon represents using your connection to make a difference. EY is committed to the city. EY brings in 130 off-campus employees each and every year. The average age of our workforce is 28 years old. They are on social media all the time, so the Grand Prix gets a lot of attention. We have a high degree of turnover. Whether they stay or leave, we want them to learn to do something with the community.”
Bud Denker, Chairman of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear, noted that this is our 30th anniversary for the Grand Prix. There is a Heritage Center in the Meijer Fan Zone where there are a number of cars displayed there. We have lots of great memories going back to John Watson, who was the first person to win the Detroit Grand Prix. We have some great champions in this room for a great race this weekend.”
“As we speak, we are pumping water out of Belle Isle at a rate of 33,000 gallons per minute,” added Denker.
“It was a great month to be teamed up with Roger Penske,” says Jim Campbell, US Vice-President of Performance Vehicles and Motorsport for General Motors. “It was the team, the execution and the driving that pulled us through. What matters most now is what’s coming up this weekend,” added Campbell. How important is it to continue racing after 30 years? “It is important to us and our brands. With new technology and the best drivers, fans can see the best racing in the world.”
Jason Scott, Global Vice-President of GM Seating for Lear Corporation, says “We are a company that gives back to the community. As a symbol of what we do for our community, we are being part of the solution.”
On Saturday, June 1, Detroit Pistons Andre Drummond will be the Grand Marshall at the Grand Prix. He will give the command “Drivers, Start Your Engines” prior to the start of the first Chevy Dual at the Detroit NTT IndyCar Series race. He will also be riding in a pace car before the cars take the green flag.
A total of 12 bands will perform over the course of the race weekend at the entertainment stage in the Meijer Fan Zone. Most notably, Frankie Ballard will perform Saturday night at 6 p.m. and legendary rock band Stone Temple Pilots will perform a matinee on Sunday.
Hope to see all you race fans at the Detroit Grand Prix. Let’s hope we have some good weather too.
For tickets and more information about the 30th Detroit Grand Prix, visit www.DetroitGP.com.