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IndyCar Series likely returning to Belle Isle

Chip-Ganassi-Roger-Penske-2

Car owners Roger Penske, right, and Chip Ganassi look on during the first day of qualifications for the Indianapolis 500 auto race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis in this May 22, 2010, file photo.

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DETROIT -– The IndyCar Series could be returning to Belle Isle next June following a vote by Detroit city council on Tuesday that authorized such a move.

Roger Penske, the racing icon and Michigan businessman who is the driving force behind bringing the open-wheel racing event back to the historic island track, is currently pursuing major sponsorship deals for the race, according to a spokesman for Penske Corporation.

Bud Denker, in an appearance on WJR Wednesday morning, said the race was not yet a “done deal” but that he was “very confident” the event would come together.

After an absence of six years, the IndyCar Series returned to race again on Belle Isle in 2007. The Detroit Grand Prix was held for two years, but in 2009 it became a casualty of a weakened economy and waning sponsorship dollars.

If it comes together as expected, Denker said the 2012 IndyCar event will be held on Belle Isle June 1-3.

The 2007 Detroit Grand Prix, which coupled an American Le Mans Series event with the IndyCar Series race, drew crowds in excess of 100,000 over the three-day Labor Day weekend, and produced an overall economic impact of more than $52 million, according to figures provided by the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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