A racing romance: How two volunteers fell in love at the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix

Grand Prix couple
Posted at 2:45 PM, Jun 12, 2021

(WXYZ) — Since the Grand Prix returned to Belle Isle in 2007, event organizers and contributing partners have made over $13.5 million in lasting improvements to Belle Isle.

It's made possible in part because of the more than 1000 volunteers that help set up and run the event.


Today we met volunteers whose lives were changed by this dual race event.

It was a love affair with racing that first drew Jeff Zawalski to the Detroit Grand Prix as a ticket holder and eventually as a volunteer.

“Just the cars, how they run, the speed at which they run,” says Jeff.

Then 3 years ago, the thunderous roar of the engines was drown out by the beating of his own heart - pumping faster than a twin-turbo V6 with four-stroke piston under the hood of an Indy racecar, every time Deb Alrutz walked by.

“I’ve been a volunteer for a little over five years now and unbeknownst to me this gentleman was a few feet away! I work in a food tent on the other side of the bridge,” says Deb.

They met volunteering at a pre-race promotional event.

Their connection was instant, like a high performance IMSA car spark plug.

“I would sneak over to the closed bathrooms. I said it was because I wanted to go to the nice bathrooms, but it was because I wanted to walk past him,” says Deb laughing and leaning into Jeff.

He worked keeping people safe crossing the bridge between paddocks; she kept people fed and well hydrated during the three days on the track.

Their newfound love was as aerodynamic and unstoppable as a Detroit Grand Prix driver conquering curves at 180 miles an hour.

“And by the end of the Grand Prix weekend we had gone out on our first date within the next week, and we became a couple and we’ve been together ever since,” says Deb.

Three years later, they are still together, partners in life and volunteers at the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix.

If you love race cars or are looking for a new love, there are still tickets available for this weekend's race: