SPECTATOR SEATING GUIDE: Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix

IndyCar, IndyCar commentary, Spectator Seating Guides — By on May 30, 2014 10:06 pm
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Welcome to More Front Wing’s Spectator Seating Guide for the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix!

For this guide, we’ll take a lap around the track beginning at the start/finish line, so be sure to check each heading to see whether the grandstand you’re looking at is for reserved or general admission seating. The images shown were captured on May 30, 2014, and ticket prices shown are as at the 2014 event. My own preferences are provided in the verdict section at the end of the post.

A disclaimer before we begin: this site and this post are in no way affiliated with the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, and the photographs and opinions presented here are my own.

Also, key points to remember:
- access to the grounds is free on Friday, so the prices shown apply on Saturday and Sunday;
- Detroit’s grandstands start with row number 1 at the top, so a lower-numbered row gets you a higher vantage point;
- all grandstands have wheelchair-accessible seating for very affordable prices, so check detroitgp.com for rates;
- paddock passes are available separately (but do not include grounds entry) for $45 for adults and $25 for children;
- grandstands 1 and 2 also have a Front Row Club option that gives you a padded seat with leg room on the wheelchair accessible platform — two-day is $145 for an adult and $110 for a child, and single-day is $80 for an adult and $60 for a child (though why you’d want to pay extra to sacrifice height in a grandstand at a flat street course is beyond me).

Track map for the 2014 Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix

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START/FINISH: GRANDSTAND 1

RESERVED SEATING ONLY
2014 pricing:
Three-day super ticket (includes paddock pass): Rows 1-3 $175 for adults, $130 for children
Two-day: Rows 4-8 $130 for adults, $95 for children
Single-day: Rows 9-18 $75 for adults, $65 for children; Rows 19-22 $55 for adults, $45 for children

This is probably going to get me into trouble, but that’s never stopped me before, so here goes: this pit lane grandstand is bad even as pit lane grandstands go. Some people love sitting on pit lane to watch the teams in action, and a double-header would seem to be the perfect place to do that, but if you’ve ever sat on pit lane at any other street course then you’ll be frustrated by what you get here. At the pit-in end, a good chunk of your view is blocked by a pedestrian bridge — and that bridge (get this) doesn’t even let you get to the far side of the track unless you also have access to the chalets that it leads to — and at the pit out end you don’t even get a full view of pit out and turn 1 unless you’re in exactly the right spot way high up in section A. There are screens at both ends, but they’re not optimally positioned. There are better concessions here than at most spots around the track, but that’s truly the only benefit you gain. You can even get a better view of most of pit lane from grandstand 2 than from here. Unless grandstand 2 is completely sold out, which it isn’t, save your money and buy there instead.

The view from the start-finish grandstand at the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix
Grandstand 1, section J, across from start/finish. Everything to the left of this view is blocked by a pedestrian bridge that you can’t use because it leads exclusively to the chalets on the other side.

The view of turn 1 from grandstand 1 at the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix
Grandstand 1, section A. This is better but still not ideal. If you’re way up at the top corner then you can see a bit more of the track, but those seats are hard to come by. There is a screen on the island between the front straight and pit lane, but it’s on the ground and on the small side.

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TURN 1: GRANDSTAND 2

RESERVED SEATING ONLY
2014 pricing:
Two-day: Rows 1-8 $130 for adults and $95 for children
Single-day: Rows 9-18 $75 for adults and $65 for children; Rows 19-29 $55 for adults and $45 for children

Winner winner chicken dinner! There’s not a single bad seat in this grandstand, but the best ones are in section D. From there you get the start/finish line, all of pit lane, all of the pit straight, and all of turn 1, plus a bonus panorama of Detroit’s skyline and a nice, big screen to watch the rest of the race on. Plus, while you lose some of the concessions, you gain the benefit of being in the only public-sale grandstand that’s not in the infield — you can stumble straight to the shuttles from here without dealing with a single pedestrian bridge. Honorable mention goes to section F: you lose part of pit lane, but if you’re right at the far end you gain a view of most of turn 2. This is absolutely, bar none, the best ticket value on the grounds.

The view from grandstand 2 at the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix

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TURN 3: GRANDSTAND 3

RESERVED SEATING ONLY
2014 pricing:
Two-day: All 13 rows $110 for adults and $75 for children
Single-day: All 13 rows $65 for adults and $55 for children

I actually had to verify with someone affiliated with the GP that this grandstand is reserved seating while grandstand 5 is not because I could not for the life of me fathom why that might be the case. It’s not that grandstand 3 is bad — it’s actually a very respectable view of one of the best passing zones on the track — but I’m just not sure it’s that much better than grandstand 5 and it’s much more out of the way.

Both this stand and grandstand 4 (which, like grandstand 5, is general admission) are so far off the beaten path that I might have missed them if I hadn’t been looking for them, and it took me some time to work out a way to get to them without ruining my shoes in the swampy, muddy grass. But these two grandstands come with a major, major bonus for parents…

Playgrounds on Belle Isle for the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix

Playgrounds! And picnic areas! Any parents who have tried to go to the racetrack with young children will squeal with delight just as I did on seeing these — convenient playgrounds can instantly turn a difficult day into an easily manageable one. They were a touch on the muddy side on this exact day (apparently Belle Isle got a rather large quantity of rain this week), but I definitely made a mental note of where these are for future visits.

As for grandstand 3 itself, it’s quite good. You get a screen and very basic concessions, but your only view is really from the exit of turn 2 through to about the apex or so of turn 3, although that view is of the hardest braking zone on the track. If you’re up high in section A, you’ll get all of the turn through the exit and a little bit of the entry into turn 4, and that helps improve the value some. For my money, though, and if I had some time on my hands, I might prefer to bring a friend and camp out in my favorite spot in grandstand 5. Your mileage may vary, of course.

View of turn 3 at the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix

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NEXT PAGE: General Admission seating, the AutoTrader.com Trackside Club, and The Verdict on seating at the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix

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