On the Right Track 

The Grand Prix celebrates its silver anniversary.


If there's one part of the Grand Prix of Cleveland racetrack that Charles Zwolsman dreads this year, it's the hairpin corner on the first turn. "I remember going out the first time and thinking, Shit, I don't even see the corner. You think you have so much space. Then it gets so tight in the middle that that's what catches people off guard," says the 27-year-old Dutch native, who won the lower-level Atlantic race division in Cleveland as a rookie last year. "It's going to be difficult to come out alive."

Zwolsman joins 16 other racers this weekend for the 97-mile speedfest on the winding 2.1-mile track. And with speeds reaching 185 miles an hour, he's hoping that his No. 34 Lola/Ford Cosworth crosses the finish line before the cars of reigning champ Paul Tracy and two-time former winner Sebastien Bourdais. "I love Cleveland's track," says Zwolsman. "It's fast and challenging. There's nothing else like it on the circuit." That's what Michigan entrepreneur Michael Lanigan likes to hear. Although he and his three brothers have managed the Grand Prix of Houston and four race teams since 1992, Lanigan has brought some brand-new features to the Cleveland outing. "At first, I felt like Elizabeth Taylor's eighth husband on our honeymoon," laughs Lanigan. "I knew how to do it. I just didn't know how to make it exciting." But he's figured it out. For the first time, fans can check out the paddock, where drivers tune up their cars. The Lanigans have also created a mini-racetrack, where spectators can take a few laps in go-karts. "I've told myself that the fan is always right," says Lanigan. "When you take the eye off that ball, they're going to go somewhere else." Start your engines from 7 a.m. to 9:15 p.m. today and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow at Burke Lakefront Airport, 2301 North Marginal Road. Tickets are $10 to $100, available by calling 888-817-7223. @cal byline 1:-- By Cris Glaser
Fri., June 22, 9:30-midnight; Sat., June 23, 7-midnight; Sun., June 24, 7 a.m.-5:55 p.m.

Speaking of Highlights

More by Cris Glaser


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