Thursday, November 23, 2017
Legal Detroit Drag Racing - New Detroit Motorsports Venue?
When the “No Holds Barred” Motor City Showdown legal drag race at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Airport was finally legitimized and given an official date, all Detroit and surrounding area car enthusiasts were ecstatic, to say the least. With the two closest drag strips to the Detroit area being long traffic crammed drives away, this gave illegal street racers a place to show off what they had without the worry of authorities or traffic intervening and with safety personnel on hand.
The event went off without a hitch and everyone seemed to have a blast. Detroit Police Chief James Craig kicked off the event with a parade of many classic looking roadsters and hot rods. After the short but glamorous parade, the competition began. Drag racers and their cars from all across the Metropolitan area made many quarter-mile passes giving the jam-packed crowd and their cameras just what they wanted - smoky burnouts, wheelstands and side-by-side action-packed drag racing.
Now that the event has come and gone with such success, many racers and fans are wondering if it’s going to be an annual event or even better, will the washed-up airport be turned into a complete Motorsports venue. This thought has been tossed around at many city council meetings. Current Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is accepting proposals for what to do with the airport with a drag racing venue being just one many other proposals. Other proposals include an update and revamp to the airport, an area designated for techno dance clubs and others that hasn’t been publicly announced yet.
Although the Detroit airport is still in use it has not had regular service from commercial airliners in 15 years and is on pace for a $1.3 million loss for the 2017 fiscal year. With Detroit still trying to recover from its most recent major economic decline, the job opportunities a Motorsports venue will create would be ideal. And just like with Detroit’s professional sporting events, concerts, auto shows and the many other activities that Detroit puts on every year, it will only help bring business to a city that desperately needs it. There is also talk about moving the very profitable Detroit Grand Prix to the new Motorsports venue if it gets built. This would help with some of the conflicts that Detroit has been having with the Grand Prix in the last few years.
So what’s the verdict? Mayor Mike Durgan just recently got re-elected, and from what everyone seems to understand is that he likes the Motorsports venue idea and is eager to do something profitable with the airport. We also have two major problems in the city - drugs and illegal drag racing. With a place nearby to drag race legally, that would definitely help combat the drag racing problems (Detroit has always had a bad one), and adding techno dance clubs to the city would probably help promote more opportunities for drug use and drug distribution. To me, it sounds like a Motorsports venue would be a win-win for the city of Detroit.
Brian Olatunji and his group Leadfoot Events LLC. are the ones that came up with the idea for the “No Holds Barred” Motor City Showdown. Brian is a native of the city and a professional drag racer. He says, “We hope that this will bring tourism and highlight the city no different than other major events such as the Thanksgiving parade and the auto show”
It could do just that. With the right amount of big names behind a state of the art Motorsports venue, getting big money IHRA and NHRA events to Detroit might be something the city could end up seeing. With Kalitta Flying Services located next to the Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti about 50 miles outside of Detroit - the owners of the mega-aviation business are some of NHRA Top/Fuel drag racing’s biggest faces - and that could really help way in on a decision to bring another professional race event to the Motor City.
As far as a permanent answer, Detroit should have one for the second annual “No Holds Barred” Motor City Showdown by spring of 2018, with more information on more permanent plans for the airport by fall of next year.