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It takes Toronto’s IndyCar race 3 weeks to set up, so why does it take 3 months in Detroit?

Spectators watching a car race
Mike Boening Photography
The contract that permits a racetrack on Belle Isle for as long as 11 weeks expires in 2018. As a result, Perkins said conflict brews again between parkgoers and car enthusiasts.

Tom Perkins, a reporter for Detroit Metro Times, kicked off his conversation with Stateside by detailing a satirical gearhead protest happening outside of the Michigan International Speedway:

“Well, you know, gearheads – they’re upset again. They’re protesting outside the Michigan International Speedway, because naturists are setting up for the annual Michigan International Speedway butterfly show and indigenous bird release,” he said. “Takes them about three months to set up for it. They have to lay a bunch of sod over the racetrack and plant a bunch of trees in the infield, and they even have a permanent, protected wetland in the middle of the track.” “But all that leads up to the release of the color butterflies and the wonderful native birds and I’ll tell you what, it’s a joyous event filled with laughter and love, but gearheads they don’t feel any joy over it and they’re protesting it. They say it’s disrespectful to car culture and that the racetrack just shouldn’t be used for a butterfly sanctuary and for a bird release.”

What he’s really writing about? A speedway taking over a natural area – Belle Isle, the 102nd State Park of Michigan, and a jewel of Detroit.

There’s always been a bit of controversy about Belle Isle’s Grand Prix race, but the opposition seems to be escalating.

Perkins joined Stateside today to explain why.

You can read his Metro Times article, "As Belle Isle's Grand Prix hits a crossroads, gearheads and parkgoers tussle for its future."

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