Roman De Angelis won’t have to travel far to get to work this weekend, but it will be his final shift at this location.
De Angelis, who lives just across the Detroit River from downtown Detroit in Windsor, Ontario, will bid farewell to the Belle Isle street circuit that has been home to 11 IMSA races since 2007. The event is moving to a downtown street circuit in 2023.
“I definitely had some fun there and some good experiences there,” De Angelis said. “I honestly enjoy the track, putting aside the fact that we got our first win there. Obviously, I’m a bit biased, but in terms of high-speed street track, it’s really fun.”
The new circuit for ’23 celebrates the return of the Detroit Grand Prix to the downtown streets that hosted Formula 1 and IndyCar races in the 1980s and ’90s. The plan will move the event to a new course layout not far from Belle Isle.
“In terms of an event, the ambiance of downtown Detroit versus Belle Isle will be a whole other level,” De Angelis said. “It’s a five-minute drive for me to get downtown. I go all the time for dinner and sporting events and to hang out with friends.”
First things first, though. De Angelis is reuniting this weekend at Belle Isle with Ross Gunn, who teamed with De Angelis last year to win the Grand Touring Daytona class at Detroit. The two will co-drive the No. 27 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 in Saturday’s 100-minute Chevrolet Sports Car Classic.
De Angelis and Gunn went on from Detroit to claim the IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup title after a victory at Lime Rock. They finished the 2021 season by winning the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
“In terms of team chemistry, it will be nice to have Ross back,” De Angelis said. “We work really well together. We’re similar in age, so our humor and our minds are kind of in the same state. I’m really looking forward to it. The vibe between me, him and the team was really good.”
Gunn has competed in the Heart of Racing Team’s No. 23 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 this season in GTD Pro, but that class is not racing at Belle Isle. De Angelis has been in the team’s No. 27 Aston Martin in GTD with Maxime Martin, Tom Gamble, Ian James and Darren Turner. The results have been mixed but steadily improving. Most recently, De Angelis and Martin teamed to finish eighth May 15 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
“We haven’t had the best luck this year,” De Angelis said. “Everything that could go wrong seems to go wrong. At Mid-Ohio, we had our first kind of uneventful race and we still ran out of fuel on the last lap. We’re having a tough time this year catching a break.”
For years, Detroit couldn’t catch a break, either. But its reputation has been revitalized, thanks in part to sporting events and the automotive industry.
“Downtown Detroit sometimes gets a bad rep just because of the past, but in the past 10 years it’s completely transformed,” De Angelis said. “It’s a beautiful place and a fun city.”
The Chevrolet Sports Car Classic airs live at 3 p.m. ET Saturday on USA Network, Peacock and IMSA Radio.