By Frank Santoroski, Staff Writer
This coming weekend the Verizon IndyCar Series will return to the Raceway on Belle Isle for the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit, continuing the 2016 season. The race weekend will be the only double-header of the season featuring two full races. The event is slated for June 3-5, 2016.
About the Race
The Chevrolet Dual in Detroit comprises rounds seven and eight of sixteen for the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2016. The event is held on a temporary street circuit, one of five such races on the calendar.
The defending race winner for race one is Carlos Munoz of Andretti Autosport. The Colombian driver collected his first series win in a rain-shortened run. Race two was won by KVSH Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais in 2015. Detroit was one of two wins on the season for the French driver en route to 10th place in the season standings.
Each race will consist of 70 laps for a total race distance of 164.5 miles. Separate qualifying sessions will set the starting grid for each race.
Support races include action from the the IMSA Weathertech Sports Car Series, the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic, and the SPEED Energy Super Trucks. In addition, fans will be treated with concerts from The Romantics and Morris Day and the Time.
About the Track
The Raceway on Belle Isle features thirteen turns around a 2.34 mile circuit. The track features a few hard braking zones that offer an opportunity to pass. The track is relatively narrow compared to others, and allows precious little room for mistakes.
The raceway is situated on a 982-acre island in the Detroit River on the Canadian border, with the skyline of the City of Detroit serving as a backdrop.
The Grand Prix of Detroit was first held in 1982 as an event on the FIA Formula One calendar. The race was located on a temporary street circuit in the downtown Detroit area circling around the Renaissance Center. John Watson, in the McLaren, was the inaugural winner.
With a track surface that was prone to crumbling, and a pit lane that was not up to FIA standards, Formula One backed out of the event after 1988. The race was revived the following year as a race for the CART series, with Emerson Fittipaldi taking the checkered flag. The CART series ran the downtown circuit for three more years. Continuing issues with the track surface prompted the race to be moved to Belle Isle in 1992, where it remains today.
The race on Belle Isle has an on-again, off-again history that saw it cancelled between 2002 and 2006, and again between 2009 and 2011. In 2013, the race was announced as a double-header for the first time.
About the Field
The 2016 Verizon IndyCar Field represents one of the strongest, talent-packed top-to-bottom lineups we have seen in years.
22 drivers will take the green at Detroit. Among them are seven drivers who have previously won on Belle Isle. In addition to the aforementioned Sebastien Bourdais and Carlos Munoz, Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Scott Dixon, Simon Pagenaud, and Will Power have all taken the checkered flag in the Motor City. Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves leads all drivers with three wins on the tight track. Two current team owners, Bobby Rahal and Michael Andretti, were also Detroit winners during their driving days.
Sixteen of the entered drivers are IndyCar race winners, six have won championships in IndyCar or CART/Champcar, and six are Indy 500 winners, including the newest member of that club, Alexander Rossi. Luca Filippi, who began the season in the Dale Coyne car, will be replaced by 2015 Rookie of the Year, Gabby Chaves. Spencer Pigot, who ran with Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan at Indianapolis, will make his debut with the Ed Carpenter Team after signing a deal that will see him run the remaining road and street courses on the schedule.
Drivers in the series represent ten different countries around the globe, making it a truly international field.
About the Series
The current Verizon IndyCar Series was born out of the Indy Racing League, which absorbed the rival ChampCar World Series in 2008. In the years since the reunification, the series has seen slow, but steady growth.
Over the past several seasons the racing produced by the series has been second to none, and the Championship battle has gone down to the final race.
Without the benefit of a gimmick like the Chase, the Verizon IndyCar Series has produced enough close racing and drama to satisfy the racing fan.
The positive growth in recent years bodes well for the Series that is owned by Hulman and Company. The centerpiece of the series is the Indianapolis 500, which just completed its historic 100th running last weekend.
Teams in the series use a common chassis, the Dallara DW-12, named in honor of the late Dan Wheldon, who did much of the development testing of the car. The chassis has aerodynamic components that differ according to the engine manufacturer.
Chevrolet and Honda are the engine partners for the Series with each supplying a 2.2 Liter V-6 turbocharged engine to the teams that are capable of producing 700 hp at 12200 rpm. All cars in the series run Firestone Firehawk tires.
Where and When to Watch
Tickets for the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit can be purchased here. Pricing ranges from $40.00 for a one day ticket up to $175.00 for a three-day super-ticket.
Television coverage will be provided through ABC-TV beginning at 3:30 pm EST on both Saturday June 4 and Sunday June 5.
Other coverage options include Sirius XM radio (Sirius:209, XM:212). Timing and scoring can be found at www.indycar.com and fans can keep up with all of the action on the IndyCar Mobile app provided by Verizon Communications.
Image: John Cote/INDYCAR