Why No Grand Prix on Belle Isle


·         Public parks are a commons, to be held in trust for the public good.


·         No park in Detroit, perhaps in the nation, is as beautifully situated as Belle Isle, surrounded by water and between two countries.


·         Urban green spaces and natural resources restore body and soul and make the city livable.


·         Parks are meant to be refuges, where one can renew and reflect and commune with nature, not a place for screaming race cars.


·         Users of Belle Isle (represented by the 100 attendees at the March 29, 2017 “listening sessions” and by thousands in DNR online polls) overwhelmingly agree that the Grand Prix should not be held on Belle Isle.


·         Car races are dangerous; a volunteer firefighter was injured during the 2015 race.


·         As attendance at Belle Isle continues to grow, competition with the race for use of the island is growing also.


·         Belle Isle is part of the Detroit River Important Bird Area (IBA) which has a high priority global designation.


·         The Detroit Audubon has made the following statement: “As strategic planning moves forward for Belle Isle, Detroit Audubon recommends that habitat protection and nature-friendly family activities should be priorities. We do not support the programming of events like the Grand Prix or Red Bull car races. These events and the infrastructure they require are in conflict with nature, are disruptive to birds, and they do not belong on Belle Isle.”


·         An independent environmental impact study (EIS) is needed to measure the impact of the race on flora, fauna, historic structures, landscape, etc. The DNR has not responded to an appeal by major environmental groups to do such a study.


·         Belle Isle is on the path of migratory birds and is home to the threatened fox snake.


·         The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear is a 501c3 organization and a subsidiary of the Downtown Partnership.

·         Set-up and tear-down time exceeds that for any car race in the world and is still excessive at eight to nine weeks.


·         There is no transparency regarding how much Penske has invested and for what “improvements” in the island.  He says that he has invested $13M in the island, but there is no way to verify this.


·         It is clear that Roger Penske’s “improvements” are exclusively on the west end of the island, and support the race.  MDOT spent $4.5M on paving the racetrack and $250,000 for a drainage system for the racetrack.


·         The Grand Prix organization pays $200,000/yr. to rent the west end of the island.   The Grand Prixmiere event raised $1.1M for the Belle Isle Conservancy in 2015, $400,000+ in 2016, and $700,000+ in 2017.


·         The Belle Isle Conservancy is compromising its mission for money.  Its mission is to protect, preserve, restore and enhance the natural environment, historic structures and unique character of Belle Isle as a public park for the enjoyment of all – now and forever (from their website 7.12.17).  


·         The DNR is compromising its mission for money.  Its website states: “The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state's natural and cultural resources for current and future generations.”


·         The Grand Prix would not be allowed at any other state park.  Why is it allowed at Belle Isle?


·         The contract with the Grand Prix organization expires in 2018 and does not have to be renewed!


·         The most objectionable “improvement” is the 450,000-square-foot concrete paddock for the Grand Prix.  Who paid for it?


·         The Grand Prix claims that the economic impact of the race on Detroit is $47M, although there is no documentation or proof of this claim.  This seems doubtful, especially given the race is only two days. The “third” day is free day for the local public isolation of the park on an island.  There is not a lot of spillover to area businesses.


·         The Grand Prix has been on the island 1992-2001, 2007-2008, and 2012-2014, and 2016-present.


·         The more obstructive the long set-up becomes, the longer is the lineup of cars waiting to get on Belle Isle.


·         Commercialization and privatization are threats to preservation of this beautiful public park.


·         The Grand Prix is not helping to “rebuild the island.”  It’s destroying the landscape and integrity of the island.


·         Scott Fountain Pewabic tiles were damaged by Penske contractors.


·         The majority of Grand Prix attendees are white suburbanites who come for 1-2 days per year, while Detroiters who frequent the island are blocked for three months from using the most popular part of the island.


·         Grand Prix income is offset by the opportunity cost of not being able to rent the casino, the fountain, picnic shelters,  Flynn Pavilion, etc. for nearly three months.


·         There are alternative sites around Detroit for the race, although we recommend avoiding residential areas due to the noise and air pollution.


·         Neighbors and park users are increasingly vocal in opposition to the race, including Canadians who object to the noise.


·         Grand Prix race equipment is being stored on the island at no cost to the Grand Prix.

Belle Isle - Turned into a macabre orgy or commercial ads, not what anyone would expect in a Public Park
"Pure Michigan" Irony like this just doesn't get any better