1982 Detroit Grand Prix

Race Winner
United States
Fastest Lap
Prost , 1m 50.438s
1982 Season

There is a big area of Detroit on the edge of the river facing Canada, just near the tunnel that joins the two countries, that has recently been totally rebuilt by local industry and its centre-piece is the 73-storey Renaissance Centre which is a pedestrian-orientated complex of offices, shops, restaurants, market places and a gigantic hotel. The sort of thing artists draw and call “a city of the future” and at which we fall over laughing and stumble back to our old-fashioned towns. Everyone is entitled to laugh, but the Renaissance Centre is actually there, even if it does seem unreal. The committee of townspeople who formed “Detroit Renaissance Grand Prix Incorporated 1982” had the idea of running a motor race around the streets surrounding the Renaissance Centre and in true American fashion “if you are going to be a bear, be a grizzly”, they opted for a Formula 1 World Championship Grand Prix, and got it. To suggest that Mr. Henry Ford II has more influence in Detroit city than the Chairman of British Leyland does in Birmingham, might be unkind, but it is a fact. It needed a Government act to allow the city streets to be closed to the public for a start. The circuit was laid out around the city area on the edge of the Detroit River with the 5-tower Renaissance complex in the centre, providing all the administration, living and working facilities that anyone could desire.

The starting area was on the road alongside the river and led into a long sweeping left-hand hairpin made up of two corners in one and the route then ran back parallel to the start area, all this being laid out in a huge car park with the aid of concrete blocks. The return run was along Atwater Street tea 90-degree turn to the right up a side street, another 90-degree right into Woodbridge Street, up past a church to a very tight left-hand hairpin on a piece of dual carriageway, immediately followed by a right turn, then a left and a sweep across to another main street.

A short straight led to a left turn down another side street to the next cross-roads where it turned right onto Lamed Street for a longish straight to another left and right to change onto the main Jefferson Boulevard dual carriageway which presented a short straight to a double-left over some tram-lines to dive down a narrow slot under a bridge and a short straight down to the riverfront. Here a tightening left hander took the course into a tunnel, three lanes wide, on a right-hand curve and up a short straight to a very tight ess-bend on to the road along the edge of the river that led back to the start area. Instead of a full-blooded blast past the pits, a tight second gear “chicane” slowed the cars by the pit-lane entrance and they had to accelerate hard over the finishing line to start another lap with the double left-hand sweep. Wild and woolly street racing with bumps, surface changes, tarmac, concrete, manhole covers, solid walls and a tunnel, what more could you want? Lots of people have been complaining about featureless autodromes and artificial circuits. There was not much that was artificial about the Detroit downtown street circuit. If anything it was a bit too real for some people.

Race Results


Circuit - Detroit


United States


Detroit, Michigan


Temporary street circuit


2.493 (Miles)


Alain Prost (Renault RE30B), 1m50.438, 81.266 mph, F1, 1982