Front Rudder - June 2018

The Long Beach Conundrum

The last couple of weeks have been all things Long Beach, and that’s okay. All these years I have been going down to attend or cover the Long Beach IndyCar Grand Prix (LBGP). It is usually followed up by the Congressional Cup on the next weekend, which is hosted by the Long Beach Yacht Club.

Anyone associated with international yacht racing is familiar with or has competed in the Congressional Cup. The LBYC just held their 54th annual event and many say it was perhaps one of the finest. More on that later.

For me, again it is the ultimate of excesses to have IndyCar and sailboat racing in the same neighborhood at the same time! It was cool to hang first with my IndyCar family and friends, then bop over to the LBYC to spend time with the club members there, including a close friend who is less than enthralled with the continuing presence of the Grand Prix. He offered some fantastic, historical context to put certain issues in perspective and offered a fascinating alternative vision of what Long Beach could be in the future. Again, more on that later!

The Congressional Cup is sailed off the waters of Belmont Memorial Pier. It is the same location the 1984 Summer Olympics had been sailed and it is a perfect vantage point to watch the races! It encompasses the best that stadium sailing can offer. The boats literally sail under your feet! The whole course is laid out in front of you. It was an awesome viewing experience, made even better by the Voice of the America’s Cup; Tucker Thompson’s tack by tack commentary.

The LBGP has now hosted the race 43 times since 1975. The first year was competed in Formula 5000 cars before switching over to the prestigious Formula One Grand Prix circuit. The event became a massive hit propelled by Mario Andretti’s win in a Lotus in 1977. The flame burned out by 1983 with the FI race moving to Detroit and the race in Long Beach switched over to Indy Cars the following year and has remained so since.

The race, though extremely popular, is facing challenges as many in the city love the race but hate the location. The issue is compounded by the fact that downtown development seems stymied by its attachment to the antiquated Long Beach Convention Arena.

The arena which sits right in the middle of the race circuit has hosted volleyball during the 1984 Summer Olympics and will host handball during the 2028 Summer Olympics.

The Wyland Whaling Wall painting encapsulates the exterior with a striking planet ocean mural depicting migratory gray whales and other aquatic life found in the ocean waters off Long Beach. The art measures in at 116,000 square feet making it the world’s largest mural. Painted in 1992, this striking work of art was a gift to the city of Long Beach, CA by artist Robert Wyland, who completed the mural over a six-week time with 200 volunteers. The wall is comprised of whales of various types, sea lions, dolphins, sharks and a variety of fish. Every animal or mammal on the mural is painted to the creature’s actual size.

Other projects are in the works as a new $533 million Civic Center is being built downtown in a massive complex that will house the headquarters of the Port of Long Beach and City Hall, along with the spanking new public Library. Located on the site of the former Long Beach Courthouse, the new building is expected to be complete in 2019. The new complex will also incorporate a re-activated Lincoln Park. “It’s always been our intention to make the civic center feel like it is part of the fabric of downtown and not isolated from the rest of the community,” said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia. It is also going to incorporate another $350 million dollars worth of development.

The grand prix in many ways re-activated downtown Long Beach creating an impetus for development and making the downtown area a destination with elegant palm tree lined boulevards, sparkling beaches and a wonderful marina area with shops, restaurants and movie theaters.

Long Beach was known for years as just the home of the monstrous aging luxury liner the Queen Mary and housing Howard Hughes Spruce Goose. The huge wooden plane made one historic flight on November 2, 1947 and then got parked. It has a wingspan of more than 300 feet and was also the largest flying boat ever built. It was designed and constructed by the Hughes Aircraft Company. It was moved to new quarters in 1992 by the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum. It was disassembled and transported by barge up the West Coast, then up the Columbia and Willamette Rivers through Portland to its resting place in McMinnville, Oregon.

The 2018 Congressional Cup

Ted Turner, Ed Baird and Dennis Conner, these world class sailors will tell you the Congressional Cup is pure match racing and a true test of sailing ability. They are three out of a long list of top sailors who have traveled to Long Beach to compete in what has been called the Grandfather of Modern Match Racing. Pure match racing means boats are precisely uniform, creating an opportunity to truly measure sailing strategy and skills. In this regatta there is no margin for error. It is like a chess game on the water and year after year the Congressional Cup delivers excitement.

2018 marks 54 years of hosting the premier match race in sailing. World-renowned skippers will travel from New Zealand, England and beyond to come and battle it out on the waters off Long Beach. Come enjoy the boats, the teams, the history and the excitement in the viewing area at the Veterans Memorial Belmont Pier.

The match racing yacht of choice is the Catalina 372. In 1990 Catalina Yachts’ president, Frank Butler came to the Long Beach Yacht Club with a vision and a proposal to design and build a fleet of eleven purpose-built boats and maintain them as a fleet owned by a foundation, not by individuals.

This vision, for the sixth type of boat used for Congressional Cup racing since 1965, was executed by VP and Chief Engineer Gerry Douglas, and was unlike anything the match racing world had ever seen: eleven identical boats; powerful masthead jibs and spinnakers; durable with glass construction making them strong and easy to repair; uniformly tuned to make them easy to sail; oversized keels and rudders to maximize control and allow the helmsman to put the boat anywhere he or she wanted; and a flush deck for easy crew work and no interior. Frank Butler’s vision has translated into the most successful match racing boat in the world.

Catalina 37’s were built for match racing where, if all boats are equal, speed and comfort are less important than durability because match racing is more Destruction Derby than Tour de France. And the Catalina 37’s are certainly equal.

They were conceived and constructed by with solid, not cored, fiberglass hulls making them heavier but tougher with virtually indestructible rigging and hardware. If they had not been built that way they would not have lasted long enough to survive two generations of punishment and abuse from the world’s best instinctively aggressive sailors.

Scott Dickson has probably raced them more than anyone. Since migrating to Long Beach from New Zealand in the early ‘90s he has raced them as a skipper in multiple Congressional Cups and several Ficker Cups. “They’re a good open platform and they’re simple, which really enables you to sail a big boat with a small team, which is very challenging,” said Dickson. “The 37’s are hanging on from a previous generation where you had heavier displacement and bigger boats. Displacement for match racing is a very, very good thing [being] slow to accelerate; slow to decelerate makes it a lot more technical. You have to plan ahead a lot more.” This year will mark Dickson’s 19th year representing Long Beach Yacht Club in Congressional Cup as a skipper. He has also won the Congressional Cup qualifier event, Ficker Cup, 13 times including 2017. Dickson has been a member of Long Beach Yacht Club since 1995 and is currently a director. When not skippering his own team, Dickson is a regular at sailing events both locally and worldwide, in both coaching and commentating roles. In 2017 Dickson represented LBYC at regattas in New York.

Taylor Canfield and Team US One have won the 2018 Congressional Cup after an intense five-day battle with nine other of the world’s top match racing talent; and fierce finals with Dean Barker and Team American Magic, who finished second.

Barker is the skipper of the newly formed America’s Cup team called American Magic, representing the New York Yacht Club. He was born in New Zealand, sailed from an early age, starting out in Optimist and P Class boats before graduating to 470s and Lasers.

Barker skippered the last race for Team New Zealand in 2000 when they successfully defended the America’s Cup and was Skipper for the Kiwis in the 2003, 2007 and 2013 America’s Cups. In 2013 Barker lead ETNZ to victory in the Louis Vuitton Cup that year and set a Cup course speed record of 47 knots or 54 mph. He led Soft Bank Team Japan last year in Bermuda during the trials for the America’s Cup presented by Louis Vuitton before losing to Artemis Racing in a hard fought, close match. With Barker here and Terry Hutchinson onboard as tactician it gives this year’s Congressional Cup the international star power it routinely features.

The final matches of this legendary yachting event came down to a USA sail-off Sunday. Not since Ed Baird’s win in 2004 has Old Glory flown from the backstay of a winning boat. Although both Canfield and Barker are past Congressional Cup champions, at the time Canfield (2014, 2015, 2016) was sailing for the U.S. Virgin Islands; and Barker (2000, 2005) under the Southern Cross, with Team New Zealand.

Defending 2017 Congressional Cup champion Ian Williams and Team GAC Pindar were edged out of the semi-finals; but rebounded with a win and $2000 in prize money in Sunday’s fleet race. For the final day a light breeze held off racing nearly an hour allowing me to get down from San Francisco before the start of racing. Once they began, Canfield straightforwardly eliminated Berntsson in the shifty 6 to 8 knot breezes.

Barker and Gilmour battled intensely, with finishes seconds apart. Going into race four, it was match point: Barker 2, Gilmour 1. Shortly after rounding the top mark on the second downwind leg, Gilmour’s spinnaker halyard popped. Despite a lightning fast recovery, Barker took the advantage and won that match, advancing to the finals.

Both Barker and Canfield have championship DNA, but Barker had beat Canfield in both matches in the Round Robins earlier this week and held an impressive record of 16 wins, leaving Canfield the underdog as he entered the finals. In scintillating matches, as the wind built to 14 knots, Canfield took the first race, while Barker won the second. When the third bout went to Canfield after Barker landed in some weeds, it all came down to Race 4.

By this point in the regatta the sailors were in tune with their boats; in the better breeze they accelerated and excelled. After a thrilling start, on the first upwind leg Barker tacked too aggressively according to the judges, earning a penalty. The closely matched teams dueled around the course with Barker in the lead. When Barker elected to take his penalty turn at the top mark, Canfield surged ahead and never let go; taking the win and the series. Canfield joins sailing legends Gavin Brady, Peter Holmberg and Rod Davis as a four-time winner of the Crimson Blazer.

“This feels amazing,” said Canfield after his victory. “We brought a great team here; we knew it was going to be hard. We struggled a bit earlier in the week, but kept pushing hard, and getting faster and faster. That was the biggest thing for us. The boys put in a huge effort and got me out of some tough spots and we kept getting better and better. No doubt, by the end of the week, I think we sailed the boat best and were the fastest team out there.”

The winner of the Congressional Cup is awarded the coveted Crimson Blazer, similar in status to golf’s Masters Green Jacket. Donning the blazer in front of the cheering crowd at LBYC’s pool deck, Canfield added, “This is an incredible event, as always. I cannot thank the club enough and all the volunteers, organizers and umpires. It’s you guys who make the event so special to us.” In addition to the trophy, Team US One receives $16,000 in prize money.

Active match racer and professional sailor, Taylor, has spent the last few years focusing on match racing with US One Sailing Team on the WMRT with the goal of competing in the America’s Cup. Having been a tour cardholder in 2013 he won the World Match Race Tour Championship as the rookie team on the tour. On the side, he is actively competing in the Etchells, J70, Melges 20, Farr 40, and M32 classes. Taylor made the switch to multihulls (M32) in 2015 with expectations of competing on the WMRT in 2016. After winning the M32 Miami Winter Series and M32 Scandinavian Series in 2015, the team went on to win 3 out of 5 WMRT events in 2016 and placed 2nd at the WMRT Championship. Congressional Cup has also been a very bright spot in Taylor’s march to the top of the leader board winning in 2014, 2015 and again in 2016 and on the podium 5 times.

“We’ve had an amazing time here, really happy to get back into it,” said Barker. “Coming together as a new group, I’m very proud of the result; it’s a great start for New York Yacht Club and American Magic,” referring to their challenge for the 36th America’s Cup. “It was definitely disappointing to lose the final, after sailing so well. Today wasn’t our best day. But overall, we were very pleased with how we’ve been going, and to find ourselves back in and competitive after such a long break away.”

Earlier in the week, Barker admitted it has been over a dozen years since he has competed in the match racing circuit. “Match racing has changed a lot, with the use of spinnakers at the start. We’re still improving and getting more confident every day. The issue today and all week was the amount of seaweed that was on the course,” said Barker. “In the 3rd Race we picked up a big clump and they (Cantfield) sailed straight away from us and as we built speed for the final start we had to go below a big clump of weeds, so we gave away a lot of gage that we had on those guys.”

As for the controversial penalty during that last race that cost them the Congressional Cup Barker admitted that, “putting it in the judge’s hands is always a dangerous thing.” The penalty happened in what was the 4th Race with Cantfield up 2-1 in a tantalizingly close series between the two boats as they literally traded paint in almost every race. Barker had a slight lead as they headed up the first beat and decided to go for the cross because “we wanted to be on the right side of the course where the breeze was.” It was going to be close, but from my vantage point it looked like they made a clean pass which would have given them control of the race and tied the series. The judges didn’t see it that way.

“It was a silly thing to do, we had control,” said Barker. “Anyway, that is the way it goes and you’ve got to sail with what you get. Today (Race Day 5) wasn’t really our best day” Barker continued. “It is always disappointing to lose the final when you have been sailing really well and we made a few too many mistakes today.”

“We’ve had a great time here! It would have been nice to come out on the right end of it all. Hats off to Taylor and his crew,” concluded Barker. “Overall though, we are obviously very pleased with the way things have been going. To find ourselves out there and being competitive after a long break, we are very pleased.”

“Unfortunately, today it didn’t quite roll our way in the end, but high marks to the guys on board for sailing a great two regattas. We applied pressure all the way through, and when pressure was applied to us, we responded,” said Terry Hutchinson, American Magic’s Executive Director, who was onboard as tactician. “Congratulations to Taylor’s team for closing it out today. They sailed a really solid series against us. If you don’t win the last race, it isn’t a very good regatta,” said a disappointed Hutchinson trying to put on a pleasant face. “We’ll be better for it. It’s a solid start for our America’s Cup program. What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.

“Looking at the big picture, if we were our best just three months into a new program, it’d be a little bit disappointing,” said Hutchinson. “American Magic is still in its infancy and to come back into it so well and look at it as a glass half full, and try to set ourselves up for the long-term. The beautiful thing is we’ll do a lot of self-analysis and get better from there. It’s all very exciting.”

Chairman Eric Dickinson said a “perfect storm” of spectacular sailing conditions, superior competition, and expanded media platform, combined to make the 2018 Congressional Cup an “overwhelming success.

“This is the best, most breeze we’ve had in years. We’re back to a 10-boat format, with nobody waiting in the wings and no boat swaps, so everything is running smoothly. And being able to do live streaming has made an incredible difference. The buzz is incredible.”


The Samsung 360 Virtual Reality

This year’s Congressional Cup regatta is the first event of its kind to highlight Samsung’s 360 degree cameras with the Virtual Reality headsets.

“The coverage has ramped up the member experience and our fans really seem to like it. Plus, we’re getting it out to the masses, and the metrics show we’re attracting a younger audience to the sport,” said Dickinson.

Dickinson’s vision for state-of-the-art viewing, both live and virtual, began even before he started his ascent up the ladder to 2018 Chairman. “I had five years to try to plan it,” explained Dickinson. “I had the vision; but I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Sometimes you must be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it.”

He said the scope of the project was immense, but Geoffrey Talbot, LBYC’s Media and Communications Director, stepped up to the plate. “We would not have had this overwhelming success without the outstanding team of professionals he put together.”

Coverage utilizes 3D and other state of the art cameras, shooting from various platforms and angles, to broadcast live stream on Facebook and YouTube simultaneously. Plus, there are video highlights and features, and live commentary.

The Samsung 360 Round is a high-quality 360-degree professional VR camera for creating and live streaming 4K 3D content to deliver an exceptional virtual reality experience. It’s durable, compact design features IP65 water and dust resistance for outdoor use. With PC software included for controlling and stitching, and expandable connectors and ports for easily connecting additional equipment, the 360 Round provides long lasting shooting for any sized job.

High-quality 360 video content with 4K 3D images plus virtually seamless live VR streaming. Built for hours of continuous shooting with a compact, unibody chassis designed to reduce heat and power consumption IP65 water and dust resistance and low light capabilities to capture content in the most challenging filming environments. Expandable connectors and ports to easily and quickly connect additional equipment. “The Samsung 360 Round is a testament to our leadership in the VR market. We have developed a product that contains innovative VR features, allowing video producers and broadcast professionals to easily produce high quality 3D content,” said Suk-Jea Hahn, Executive Vice President of Samsung Electronics’ Global Mobile B2B Team.

“The combination of live streaming capabilities, IP65 water and dust resistance and 17 lenses makes this camera ideal for a broad range of use cases our customers want – from live streaming major events to filming at training facilities across various industries.”

The Samsung 360 Round combines high-quality images with a durable design and a content management software solution that allows VR directors to transform virtual reality through a complete set of advanced features.

Tom Gadbois is from the Technical Presales Group for the Display Division at Samsung. “We were able to bring display technology out which allow people here to see the live video streaming both here at Belmont Pier, but more importantly back at the yacht club,” said Gadbois. “The two most important qualities of the camera are that it can get wet and it can do live streaming.

“The exciting thing is that we are streaming live from the race course!” exclaimed Gadbois. “Unfortunately, we are not on the competitor’s boats as yet, there are still some technical things to work out, like setting up on a moving object that will be transmitting a lot of content thru a small stream in real time.”

Will it take something like the new 5G network to make it work? Maybe next year? I ask. “It’s possible. It is pretty revolutionary,” replied Gadbois. “The technical challenge is about networking from a mobile and stationary perspective. We need a ‘pipe’ which will take the 360 content, which is a ton and put it thru the air to different locations, like here at the pier or to the yacht club. Then stream it out and get it in real time.

“We’re not bringing the event to you,” says Gadbois. “We are bringing you to the event! That is exactly what we are going to be doing. These are all the things that are being worked on.”

The 5G Network will hopefully be available commercially, world-wide in 2020. Verizon plans to roll it out in test market cities later this year in Sacramento, Houston, Indianapolis and Los Angeles. It was demonstrated earlier this year at the Winter Olympic Games in South Korea.


The 2018 Ficker Cup

Dean Barker, USA, dominated the 2018 Ficker Cup, to win this Grade Two World Sailing regatta, and advance to the Congressional Cup, which runs April 16 to 22, 2018.

Also qualifying for Congressional Cup is Johnie Berntsson, SWE, who finished second in the three-day regatta, which was founded by Long Beach Yacht Club in 1980 to honor legendary yachtsman Bill Ficker.

Barker was nearly undefeated in Ficker Cup, logging an impressive 13-1 record in the Round Robins. “I’m not sure when we stopped match racing,” Barker said speculating the 2005 Congressional Cup event, which he won, “could be one of the last match racing events I’ve done.” But he certainly hasn’t lost his touch, as evidenced by his steady, cool-headed performance on the waters of Long Beach.

At the prize giving at LBYC, Deon Macdonald, daughter of the late Bill Ficker, was on hand to present the esteemed Ficker Cup to Barker.

“It’s an honor to win the trophy named after Bill Ficker,” Barker remarked. “It’s been a fantastic week; it feels a little like coming home to Long Beach.” Founded by Long Beach Yacht Club in 1965, the Congressional Cup set the standard for top-level match racing worldwide and pioneered the concept of on-the-water umpiring. The Ficker Cup Match Race was established by LBYC to honor Bill Ficker, world class Star champion in the 50s and winner of the 1970 America’s Cup as skipper of the 12-meter class yacht Intrepid.

During Intrepid’s 1970 America’s Cup campaign, the phrase “Ficker is quicker” was coined and later changed to “Ficker was quicker” when he beat Gretel 2 to win the cup. Bill also was the winner of the Congressional Cup in 1974. Ficker Cup is a World Tour WS Grade 2 qualifier event for Congressional Cup. The top two skippers from this event will receive the final two invitations to the event.


The Other Side
Of The Story

There’s a serious economic side to the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach for the city and Southern California in addition to all the great publicity generated by the 44th annual event. The economic output in the region is an estimated $63.4 million, with half of that concentrated in Long Beach. According to the research conducted by Beacon Economics, the Grand Prix contributed $33.7 million in direct expenditures in the region, which “supported the equivalent of 606 year-round jobs, 351 in Long Beach alone.” The host city also benefited from $12.9 million of the $24.4 million in labor income generated by the IndyCar Series event. Also, the weekend event, which will start Friday, produced $1.8 million in tax revenue, $700,000 in Long Beach. “The Grand Prix of Long Beach has been the largest annual event in Long Beach for more than 40 years,” Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said. “This report shows the tremendous economic impact the Grand Prix has throughout Long Beach and the region.”

The Beacon Economics’ study comes as no surprise to Jim Michaelian, President and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. “The results of this extensive study confirm our estimation of the significant financial impact that the Grand Prix had in 2017,” said Michaelian. “We are especially satisfied to see the benefits that accrued directly to our host, the City of Long Beach, and look forward to continuing that beneficial relationship for many years to come.”

According to the study, 81 percent of ticket purchases were from Southern California residents. Under any new agreement reached, the GPALB will be pushed to reduce its current set up and take down times in preparation of the event to more closely meet what its competitor had proposed. Currently the association begins construction 60 days prior to the annual race and tears down temporary installments within 17 days after race day.

One of our awesome hosts at the yacht club was John Sangmeister. He was starboard mainsheet trimmer on Dennis Conner’s 1987 and 1992 Stars & Stripes America’s Cup teams. He is the owner of Gladstone’s Restaurant, which is one of the top sponsors of the Congressional Cup and recently opened his latest restaurant venture, Pieology Pizzeria. His Tritium Racing Team won the 2013 Transpac Race, as their trimaran completed the 2,225 nautical-mile course from Point Fermin off LA to Diamond Head in Hawaii in just five days, 11 hours, 52 minutes and 33 seconds which was extraordinary at the time. John has been a great FB friend and is very passionate about Long Beach and certainly about how the Grand Prix affects the downtown area. Suffice to say, he could be a fan of the race, but he certainly isn’t a fan or supporter of its location!

He penned an articulate letter to The Grunion, which is a Long Beach Community paper. It goes like this: “As the city of Long Beach reviews responses from a Request for Proposal for the Grand Prix race operations, let’s consider the implications. The city is calling for a 15-year operating agreement. That’s nearly another generation of undeveloped land along our waterfront. The footprint of this agreement is nearly 200 acres of prime waterfront real estate. Is a three-day event really the highest and best use of this land?

Let’s expand the Deloitte review process to consider fully what could happen on this property. An economic impact study of all possibilities could help everyone have a better understanding of what is at stake. Would it make sense to consider other options and would it be in the Council’s and Mayor’s office fiduciary responsibility to weigh in all options for this property? The Grand Prix has moved several times; perhaps there are alternatives we should explore.

Last year’s Grand Prix showed how far it has fallen. We have directly observed, over the last 15 years, a steady decline in attendance, profound reductions in grandstand seating and an overall decline in general admission attendance. Our sales numbers this year were off dramatically and in speaking with Kurt Schneiter at the Famous Dave’s, he echoed similar results and frustrations. I would ask the City Attorney’s office to call for an audit of the Grand Prix as the published attendance reports by the Grand Prix Association are inconsistent with our direct observations.

Finally, I would like to ask, if the Grand Prix is such a great economic development engine, why hasn’t Long Beach kept pace with San Diego?

In 1992, our two downtowns were at a similar state of redevelopment. Both were gritty waterfronts filled with traditional Navy entertainment. Since that time, San Diego has expanded their Convention Center, built 10,000 residential units, opened a Major League Baseball stadium and in the last 10 years built eight luxury hotels along the waterfront, creating tens of thousands of jobs for San Diegans. In contrast, Long Beach can point to the near 11 years it took to build the Current.

I offer this anecdotal story. My mother started the Las Vegas Grand Prix in the late ’70s. Caesar’s Palace ran two years of F1 and two years of Indy Cars on 66 acres of parking lots. Attendance each year over three days ran around 110,000. What management discovered was there was a higher and better use for the property and built the Forum Shops and the Mirage, which attracts millions annually. It’s time to consider the possibilities. It’s time for Long Beach to Dream Big!” John Sangmeister


Detroit’s Challenge

The Detroit Grand Prix on Belle Isle finds itself in similar circumstance as it takes over nearly half of the 982-acre island park for about three months each spring and summer, turning it into a heavy construction zone and, eventually, a 2.3-mile raceway. This year, construction for the June 2 through June 4 event started in early April, and breakdown will last several weeks beyond that.

The construction project to set up and break down the Grand Prix stretches between 80 and 120 days and is the longest of any race in the world, as we verified with other race organizers and media outlets. Understandably, the intrusion is dismaying and frustrating to many regular park goers who visit the island for its natural beauty. Though most critics aren’t calling for the race to be canceled altogether, many want the construction timeline to be shortened, to several weeks, or the race moved to a different venue, downtown or the city airport are some suggested alternatives.

There are two sides to the debate. The gist of race organizers’ and gear heads’ case consists of a few points. Detroit is the Motor City, they say, and in the Motor City, even parks are race tracks. Entrepreneur Roger Penske has spent a lot of money “fixing up” Belle Isle since 2012, so he should get carte blanche over it.

The Grand Prix’s charity event raises a lot of money for the park, and the event brings almost 100,000 over the 3-day race weekend. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, which manages Belle Isle, is in the process of developing a long-term plan for its use. Separately, the contract with the city that allows Penske to convert the island into a racetrack for up to 11 weeks, though they’ve been allowed to go over that timeframe, is set to expire in 2018, but negotiations for a new contract are underway.

Well it looks like we are in overtime and over-long again, but if you have thoughts or comments please write to H

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