Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin celebrated ‘Fat Tuesday’ in Detroit, which marks 100 days out from the reimagined downtown Detroit Grand Prix, by acting as pastry chefs and celebrating local Polish heritage by making paczkis in Detroit’s Eastern Market at Pietrzyk Pierogi.
Once they were done filling the donut-like delights, the Bus Bros paid a visit to Detroit’s Engine No. 9 Fire Station, which is the closest station to the new street circuit, with a care package of paczkis to share their gratitude to its staff. In kind, the American and the New Zealander got to dress up as firemen before heading off to another stop on the Detroit GP promotional tour.
“I think there’s a lot of excitement around this new race; it was already great on Belle Isle, but I think people are really excited about coming downtown,” McLaughlin told RACER. “We’re not only opening ourselves up to new fans and created a very different atmosphere, especially with the double pit lane, but I think having 50 percent of the track for free viewing, allowing people that we have no idea about motorsport to just hang out downtown and watch these cars go past at 190 miles an hour is pretty cool.”
McLaughlin said the firefighters they met echoed the enthusiasm for the Detroit GP’s change of venue for the June 4 weekend.
“We were just at the fire department, and even the firefighters, they just seemed excited because they’ve been through the hard times when the city was really struggling, and things like this are just stimulating the economy and getting everyone really hyped up about it,” he said. “That’s a pretty consistent feeling throughout the whole city. And that’s something that’s really cool to be a part of.”
Newgarden, who has done many promotional trips to support the Detroit GP, says he’s come to appreciate the people and culture that makes the annual stop in Motown such a unique event.
“What I love about Detroit is the community atmosphere,” he said. “Piggybacking off Scott’s words, you can really feel the enthusiasm for this event from a community standpoint – I think more so than any other event that you go to. Think about the 1500 volunteers that will show up and be present at this event. They make it what it is. They make it special, make you feel warm and welcome. And you can tell that there’s a lot of pride within the city of Detroit. I think moving it from Belle Isle to downtown is only increasing that pride and connectivity to the neighborhoods to the communities to the businesses. So as a racer, I’m excited to drive the track, but I think from an event community standpoint, it’s just a huge plus for everybody.”