2020 Detroit Grand Prix poster contest winner honors a race-less year

Henry Payne
The Detroit News

There won’t be a Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear in 2020, but there will be a Grand Prix poster.

The annual poster has been a collector's item since 1982 when the Grand Prix began as a Formula One race through the streets of Detroit and has continued as the event moved to Belle Isle under the IndyCar banner. For the eighth year, the winner was selected in a Grand Prix contest from designs created by students at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit.

Everett Robinson II of Detroit designed the winning poster for the 2020 Belle Isle Grand Prix.

Everett Robinson II, a 20-year-old Detroiter studying Illustration, designed this year’s winning entry. It’s a keeper.

In an explosive rendering, Robinson’s winning entry features multi-colored race cars screaming toward the viewer leaving a blur of green trees and red-and-white curbing in their wake.

“It’s odd that we’re not going to have a Grand Prix this year,” said the soft-spoken artist who remembers first visiting Belle Isle with his father for driving lessons. “I hope the poster can be a distraction from what is going on at the moment. It’s a bit of escapism. It tries to imagine what the Grand Prix drivers feel when they go at the speeds they do.”

More: 'We have to be careful': Grand Prix's 'Dr. D' sees COVID-19 on front lines at Detroit Receiving

In a historic year in which coronavirus has impacted every major sporting event, the poster is proof the Detroit GP – and its charitable ambitions – won’t be forgotten.

Robinson’s artwork will be refined over the next few days for publication and then produced in a limited run of official 2020 posters. They will be available in May for purchase for $25 online via the Grand Prix’s official merchandise partner, Made in Detroit, as well as the event’s official website, DetroitGP.com.

Proceeds from the sale of the posters will be dedicated to COVID-19 relief efforts, continuing the Grand Prix’s charitable traditions that have brought millions of dollars to Belle Isle.

“The tentacles that the Grand Prix reaches run very wide and deep,” said Detroit GP chairman Bud Denker. “First, the impact to Belle Isle. Having the Grand Prix on (there) has allowed us to invest over $13.5 million in the Belle Isle Park the last 12 years. Having the Grand Prix allows us to give the Belle Isle Conservancy almost $6 million.

“That’s not going to happen this year. That money goes away.”

But the poster will do its part. The proceeds will be distributed via the United Way for Southeastern Michigan COVID-19 Community Response Fund, which provides pandemic relief in numerous ways – including food distribution to students affected by shuttered schools and assistance for health and human service agencies.

Robinson will be the recipient of a scholarship award – as will the second- and third-place winners: Josh Rose and Zijao Liu, both juniors in the CCS illustration program. Andrea Slomczenski and Ashley Neagle rounded out the five finalists chosen from the CCS Digital Illustration class entries.

In keeping with the state’s shelter-in-place order, the judging for this year’s contest was conducted online via a Zoom meeting. The students submitted their designs before April 6, when the decision was announced to cancel this year’s Grand Prix, originally scheduled for May 29-31.

Th eight-person judging panel included Denker, Grand Prix president Michael Montri, GM industrial design manager Stuart Cooper, Lear senior marketing specialist Claudette Kaado, WDIV-TV sports reporter/anchor Jamie Edmonds, Detroit Free Press assistant sports editor Ryan Ford, CCS Illustration Department chair Don Kilpatrick, and the author of this article. Detroit Grand Prix fans also weighed in by voting their choice via social media.

“The poster competition with the talented students at CCS has become one of our favorite traditions of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix,” said Denker. “Even though we aren’t able to host the Grand Prix weekend on Belle Isle this year, we felt it important to carry on this tradition.”

The 2021 Grand Prix has already been confirmed when, if all goes well, race cars will again be streaking across Belle Isles landscape.

“We hope there is pent-up demand for it in 2021 when we bring it back bigger than ever,” said Denker.

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at hpayne@detroitnews.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne. Jordyn Grzelewski covers the auto industry for The Detroit News.