Rick Mears: Belle Isle's Dual in Detroit 'great racing'

Geoff Robinson
The Detroit News

Detroit — The North American International Auto Show welcomed an IndyCar legend, as well as an international racer who’s enjoyed some success in Detroit during the past few years to the festivities at Cobo Hall on Friday afternoon.

Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner and three-time IndyCar champion Rick Mears joined Will Power, 2014 and 2016 winner of the Chevy Dual in Detroit as the two talked everything from the race at Belle Isle to the effect the new style of IndyCar will have on the season.

Mears admitted to missing the “good old days” of racing, but he still thinks highly of how the sport has continued to grow in the new millennium. The annual Belle Isle race is a good example.

“I think (IndyCar) really has been going in the right direction,” Mears said. “When I started here, we were in the streets pulling up the manhole covers. But I think (Belle Isle) is just the perfect venue. It’s a great setting for TV with the water and the island and the city in the background. The improvements they’ve made to the track have been great. It’s great racing.”

Power, whose success in Detroit came in even-numbered years, thinks that means luck is on his side when IndyCar comes back to Belle Isle the first weekend in June.

“That’s the aim, obviously,” Power said of picking up another victory in Detroit. “It’s a home race for Penske, so far our team it’s a big deal. We really want to perform well here, so it’s definitely on my mind.”

Of course, the big news in IndyCar circles is the debut of a new car that’s been pegged as more “sleek and sexy” but also providing less downforce and drag.

“I really like it,” Power said. “I think you’ll definitely see a change in the racing. It will be better everywhere. It’s heading in the direction that I like. Everything will be a little tighter and more competitive.”

Mears, 66, said while he approves of the new car, he has no plans to take one out on the track anytime soon.

“I drove the simulator the other day,” Mears said, laughing. “That’s the first time I’ve been back in anything.”

Both men said as soon as they were done with their obligations for the day, the first thing they’d be checking out at the show would be the new Corvette.

“I want one so bad,” Power quipped. “I’ll be getting one in May, the pace car.”

The winner of the Indianapolis 500 is typically presented with the official street-legal pace car replica. Despite 29 wins in his IndyCar career, Power has yet to capture the 500 in 10 tries.

"I think (Belle Isle) is just the perfect venue. It’s a great setting for TV with the water and the island and the city in the background,"  Rick Mears says about the Dual in Detroit.