Nashville is gone. Surfers Paradise, after one exhibition race, is also gone. And now, Belle Isle has been removed from the 2009 schedule. Yes friends, Roger Penske took his baby and, well he didn't exactly shoot it but he certainly put it in a voluntarily-induced coma.
Roger Penske, organizer of the Detroit Grand Prix, said today he couldn’t in good business sense continue the event with so many of his area businesses struggling.From an entertainment standpoint this isn't a huge loss, because despite the recent overhaul the Belle Isle circuit is still so narrow the race has to be decided by a judiciously awarded black flag. Racing without passing is like decaffeinated coffee - what exactly is the point?
Also key was the loss of the factory Porsche and Audi programs in the American LeMans Series, the sports car series which was to share the spotlight with the Indy cars in the Sept. 5-6 event at Belle Isle.
“This is a real economic time of distress for everyone,” said Penske, who labeled the decision a postponement. “We couldn’t sit here and count on a lot of things happening (from a sponsorship standpoint) that we knew weren’t going to happen knowing that (Detroit) is so distressed with unemployment and all the things going on.”
(MORE from IndyStar)
But from a larger perspective this is disparaging. It's not quite Morrissey bad, but it's definitely in the Mellencamp to Springsteen range of rough times because if Roger Penske can't field an event then you know we're in uncharted waters. And not only that but the end of the schedule just went limp.
Here were the previously scheduled final four races of '09.
So now after Chicagoland we have two races in the final six weeks, and only one of those will be televised live while you are awake. Ugh! OK, maybe now we're moving down to the Depeche Mode level of despair.