May 28, 2014 at 1:01 am

'True fanatic' Doug Guthrie remembered by colleagues at the track

Doug Guthrie Memorial Grand Prix
Doug Guthrie Memorial Grand Prix: Colleagues and family of Doug Guthrie, former Detroit News auto critic who died last fall, join with Indy Car drivers Mike Conway and Arie Luyendyk to host a go karting competition in Guthrie's honor.

Sterling Heights— When Doug Guthrie, the late auto critic for The Detroit News, would race go-karts, it wasn’t just for fun.

“He was a true fanatic. Knew all the great go-kart tracks around here,” said The News’ current auto critic, Henry Payne. “He knew all the lap times.”

On Tuesday, colleagues of Guthrie, who passed away unexpectedly last fall at age 60, honored his memory and his love of go-karting with the Doug Guthrie Grand Prix Challenge.

Kart 2 Kart in Sterling Heights and Merrill Cain, spokesman for Team Penske racing, partnered to host the event ahead of the Belle Isle Grand Prix this weekend.

The event offered Guthrie’s colleagues a chanceto compete for theQuicken Loans Cup and match their skills against some prominent drivers from the Detroit Grand Prix: Mike Conway, the Verizon IndyCar Series driver who won last year’s Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit, and Arie Luyendyk Jr., the “Bachelorette” finalist and SPEED Energy Stadium Super Truck Series driver.

Conway warmed up with the amateur drivers ahead of the heats. He said he was happy to be back in Detroit, where he claimed victory last year.

“It’s a very cool place here, I love Detroit,” he said. “But winning here last year holds a special place.”

Guthrie’s wife, Kelley Root Guthrie, said he would have loved the event.

“He would have been thrilled. He loved all forms of racing,” said Root Guthrie, deputy metro editor at The News. “I only wish that he were here to enjoy it because it would mean the world to him to have the Indy car drivers, his colleagues, his buddies all here.”

A longtime courts reporter before becoming The News’ auto critic in 2012, Guthrie had a love affair with autos that began during adolescence. Colleagues and industry officials said his columns married his zest for cars with a reporter’s attention to detail.

“I think it’s the perfect way to remember him and remember the good times,” said Root Guthrie.
(313) 222-2127

Arie Luyendyk Jr. rounds a corner during the Doug Guthrie Grand Prix Memorial Challenge Tuesday. / Mark Bialek / Special to The Detroit News
Doug Guthrie, seen during a media test run at Belle Isle in 2008, was an ... (Mark Bialek / Special to the Detroit News)