GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) - While it will be bicycles speeding around the streets of Grand Rapids for the Priority Health Classic this weekend, for some, it may bring back memories of cars racing a similar route. This year is the 10th anniversary of the West Michigan Grand Prix.
For a few days in 1998, and few days in 1999, the streets of downtown Grand Rapids were transformed into a raceway.
Looking around Charlie Steen's home, you can see his pride in helping to organize the West Michigan Grand Prix. Steen says he and other organizers "came up with the idea that this might be a good opportunity to take a look at a street race in downtown Grand Rapids. This could be used as an economic development tool to promote and encourage and retain existing businesses in the area. And went from there."
With the help of city leaders, the West Michigan Grand Prix put up grandstands on streets and parking lots, carved out a raceway along city streets, and brought in a lot of fans. Steen explains, "We had over 100 local sponsors generating over $1.5 million dollars. We had over 140,000 people in attendance for both years."
So, why did the event only last two years? Steen says, "We were unable to get major corporate sponsorship."
Even if they could get the money now, Steen says a reprise is unlikely now because of all of the changes and development downtown. But, wow, what memories.
Remember the Grand Prix? Leave your comments below!