Penske wants two IndyCar races in Michigan in '07

Updated: July 30, 2006, 10:57 PM ET
Associated Press

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Roger Penske usually gets what he wants.

If Penske gets his latest wish, Michigan will have two open-wheel events in 2007 with a race returning to Detroit's Belle Isle.

Michigan International Speedway, where one of his drivers, Helio Castroneves, won the Firestone Indy 400 on Sunday, will host another Indy Racing League event next July and Penske wants another IndyCar series race to be in the Motor City.

"I drove around Belle Isle about three months ago, and invited (IRL founder) Tony George and (IRL president) Brian Barnhart," Penske said. "The course is there. It needs a few nuances, but we could build a tremendous event there, which would be long-standing for the city of Detroit.

"There's a real opportunity. It's just in the discussion stage, but it's something that could be very positive for the city and the Indy Racing League."

The 20th Detroit Grand Prix ran in 2001 on Belle Isle, but a contract between Championship Auto Racing Teams and promoter International Management Group expired. IMG paid CART a sanctioning fee of about $2 million, but has suffered an annual loss of about $600,000.

Penske said a proposal has to be put together for Detroit officials, and he hopes to know within the next two months whether the race will happen next year.

IndyCar series driver Dario Franchitti, who raced in the Detroit Grand Prix, hopes Penske can pull it off.

"I'd love to be back on Belle Isle," Franchitti said. "We won there once, and it was a track I really enjoyed."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE