GRAND-AM Series: Rolex Series Competitors Looking Forward to Belle Isle Race

By Auto News Log • October 14th, 2011

The GRAND-AM community was buzzing with excitement with Wednesday’s announcement that GRAND-AM would be racing at Belle Isle in the Chevrolet Detroit Sports Car Challenge on Saturday, June 2.

“Sounds great!” emailed Scott Pruett. “Great news,” Tweeted John Pew. “What a fantastic addition to the Rolex Series schedule, can’t wait for 2012,” added Ozz Negri.

Alex Gurney was among the drivers excited about the news, and looks forward to returning to racing at the scenic circuit – where he once competed earlier in his career. The two-time Daytona Prototype champion had his first experience racing at Belle Isle when he was racing in the Skip Barber Pro Series. Next June, he will return to the Motor City, driving the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet/Riley in the Chevrolet Detroit Sports Car Challenge.

“I am very excited about this announcement for GRAND-AM to race at Belle Isle,” Gurney said. “I competed there once when I first started racing in a Barber Dodge in 1998 and it always left a big impression on me. It’s one of those street circuits that has such a great atmosphere, and the track itself has some real character. Not just your standard 90-degree corners like many street circuits, it has some really quick and very technical sections that make it a real thrill to drive.

“I think our cars will be a perfect fit for Belle Isle and I’m sure we’ll see another classic GRAND-AM battle for the win. Being right in Chevrolet’s backyard, we will be putting in our utmost effort to make it a ‘home’ victory for them. I can’t wait.”

Gurney’s car owner shares his enthusiasm.

“This is great news in a variety of ways,” Bob Stallings said. “The city of Detroit needs some good news for a change and this race will be just the ticket. I am especially happy that Chevrolet is a big player in this effort. Chevy has a long and happy history of combining its racing heritage with the marketing of its terrific product line and this race will allow Chevrolet to shine in both capacities.”

“The GAINSCO No. 99 team will have an extra incentive to have the Chevrolet ‘Red Dragon’ running up front at The Chevrolet Detroit Sports Car Challenge,” Stallings added. “Winning this race will be extra special. Way to go GRAND-AM. This is a winner.”

Fellow DP car owner Mike Shank agrees.

“This is huge for us – epic,” Shank said. “This is as big as it gets for us, and I congratulate GRAND-AM for their work in getting us this race. We’re going to be where the people are, and I’m looking forward to spending quality time there. This is going to be big.”

Another car owner, Joe Nonnamaker, has experience racing in Detroit, but that was on the original Renaissance Center circuit.

“I first raced at Detroit back in 1984 at the original downtown Grand Prix circuit,” Nonnamaker said. “I was competing in the Champion Spark Plug Challenge Racing Sedan Series. That was very exciting as the series was supporting the Formula 1 race. And actually my racing history in the area dates even further back to when I went to my first driver’s school at the Waterford Road Course, just outside of Detroit, in 1974.

“Now to be coming back 28 years later to race at the Belle Isle circuit is very special,” Nonnamaker added. “From what I have seen, the setting for the event is very open and accessible for the fans, just like Montreal is. Hopefully, all three Team Sahlen Mazda RX-8s can put on a good show for the Mazdafanatics in the ROLEX GT class.”

Source: GRAND-AM Road Racing


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