April 24, 2013 at 6:24 am

Terry Foster

GM Charles Burns pledges Indy Dual race will run smoothly

James Hinchcliffe inspects the turn he crashed on last year on the Belle Isle course. Drivers will return for the Dual in Detroit. (David Coates/Detroit News)

Detroit -- Charles Burns has been in Detroit since October. And already he sounds like the CEO to a "Say Yes to Detroit" campaign.

Burns is the general manager of the Indy Dual in Detroit, which runs May 31-June 2 on Belle Isle.

His job is simple, yet complex.

Make sure everyone is safe and security is tight.

Make sure, with the help of hundreds, this year's event doesn't have structural problems like last year's event did, when the track crumbled like burnt toast.

Track must hold up

Here, however, is what Burns might not realize.

When bad things happen in Detroit, they are magnified three-fold.

That's why last year's problems with the track must be the most critical point of Burns' focus.

Last season, the track fell apart so quickly, race officials were out there pulling up synthetic pieces and trying to put the asphalt down.

It was embarrassing.

Hopefully, what race officials have done since that moment will pay off.

A $1 million project was put into motion, repaving more than 80,000 square feet of the track and extending the track.

"We are full throttle," Burns said.

But will it hold up?

"We are very confident," Burns said. "The last time we raced was 2008, and between weather, we had rain the Friday before, and down force on the racetrack, it's very tough.

"But we are very confident that those repairs have been taken care of. It has been totally replaced. There are a few tweaks here and there."

Pressure's on to succeed

Burns presented his case before the Detroit Sportscasters Association luncheon at the Taubman Center.

He was proud to be there because it's one of Detroit's shining lights — a refreshing place filled with fresh ideas.

It was a perfect setting for Burns because he gets it and he cares. He sees the big picture.

And in turn, he challenges people to find great things about Detroit. That's great.

But the bottom line is this: May 31-June 2 must go off without incident; it must be a success.

That is Burns' job. It's on him and race chairman Bud Denker.

And Burns understands.

"It's huge," he said. "What we give back to the island, give back to the city and give back to southeast Michigan.

"Having two live Indy Car races is huge, and it's a chance for the international media to be focused on this area."

terry.foster@detroitnews.com

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