Detroit street circuit

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Downtown Detroit Street Circuit.png
Detroit Street Circuit
Location 22px-Flag of the United States.png Detroit, Michigan, USA
Events Formula One; CART; Trans-Am
Length km 4.023
Length mi 2.5
Turns 18
Record time 1:38.301
Record driver Ayrton Senna
Record team Lotus-Renault
Record year 1986

The streets of Detroit, Michigan hosted Formula One racing, and later CART racing, between the 1982 and 1991 seasons. The course was set up near the Renaissance Center and the Cobo Arena, also including a small part of the M-1 highway, also known as Woodward Avenue.

Created largely in an effort to improve the city's international image, the race meant that the United States would host an unprecedented three Grands Prix in the 1982 season. (The other two US races, Long Beach and Las Vegas, were also added to the schedule for similar purposes.) The inaugural Detroit Grand Prix saw John Watson claim victory after starting in 17th place, the lowest grid position for an eventual race winner on a road course. (Watson would break his own record at Long Beach the next year by winning from 22nd place.)

The narrow track resulted in a large number of cars retiring during the race due to contact with the concrete walls. In its years on the F1 schedule, at least half the field retired in each race. The 1984 race tied an F1 road course record by featuring 20 drivers that failed to finish, eventually setting the record when one finisher was disqualified several months later.


Starting in 1984, the SCCA Trans-Am Series held a support race during the Grand Prix weekend. The Motor City 100 was often regarded as the most important event of the Trans Am schedule.

In 1985, Detroit became the sole American venue on the F1 schedule. It also became a track which Ayrton Senna had great success at, winning a pole position in 1985 and then winning three straight races from 1986 to 1988.

The track was only moderately received by the drivers, and it was removed from the schedule in 1989 when Formula One decided to race in Phoenix. Detroit, instead, gained a CART race, replacing a circuit in the streets of Miami on the schedule.

Three CART races were held on the track. Emerson Fittipaldi won the first and last races and Michael Andretti won the second race; Andretti also won pole position for each Detroit race. The final race featured an unusual lack of attrition as nearly 3/4 of the drivers finished.

The race was not economically viable for the city, so the venue was changed to a temporary course on Belle Isle for the 1992 season. That event lasted until 2001 as a CART event, but is back on the schedule for the 2007 American Le Mans Series and IRL season.

Formula One Circuits

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