BELLE ISLE (WXYZ) - After just twelve laps, the Grand Prix chairman knew something was wrong when he saw part of the road flutter in the air.
By the 45th lap, the race cars had come to an abrupt stop under a red flag warning.
“We’re not perfect,” said Roger Penske, Indy Car owner and the driving force behind Sunday’s race. “We certainly found that out during the race.”
Seven portions of the track needed emergency repairs, delaying the race by two hours.
“Friday, Saturday, even Sunday morning, no issues. It only happened Sunday afternoon, and that’s why we were surprised by it,” said Bud Denker, event chairman.
Denker spent Monday morning walking the 2.1 mile track. He says they had poured some new concrete for the track in 2007, but other parts that were believed to be stronger were patched with a rubber adhesive.
“Hot tires from Indy cars and the suction off the bottom of the cars occurred over and over again, it wore the track out,” Denker explained.
The chairman and Penske are already eyeing solutions. An engineering study will be conducted this year, but they expect to replace at least five of the current 14 turns.
“We’ll address that in 2013. It wasn’t something that we didn’t know was a risk, but we thought we had mitigated that,” said Penske.
Race organizers also plan to expand the 2.1 mile track to 2.5 miles for next year.
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