“I want to inject myself into this community in this city,” Campbell, the Grand Marshal for Dual I, said Saturday at Belle Isle. “I wanted to be part of this, and I wanted to people know who I was, that I do want to represent the city. And what better event to do that than the Detroit Grand Prix. This means a lot to me, not only myself, but the gentleman I’m with here. We want to be a part of this community.”
Campbell had the opportunity to meet and observe drivers in the pit before the race.
“What I did not realize was the physical toll it does take on the body to drive one of these,” he said. “This is not just to jump in a car drive. It’s physically demanding, and you have to be structured and disciplined. For somebody that’s a football coach. I appreciate that.”
“It’s been phenomenal. Just you know, the people in the city, I’ve lived in a lot of different cities and the people in this city have been extremely friendly, extremely welcoming, and I couldn’t be more appreciative. It’s been excellent,” Holmes said. “It’s my first time ever being at a race period. So, I came here with a straight novice, and I feel like I’ve learned, you know, a fair amount of stuff.”
“He’s got 1,000 race cars in his bedroom,” Holmes said, holding his son B.J. “So, for him to be exposed to it and so good all it is, is pretty amazing. To be here, you know, I’ve learned a lot about just really the physical demands of the drivers, you know how to shape they have to be in the physical condition, all this stuff. That’s probably the biggest of anything that I’ve realized in terms of steering wheel control, and all that and how important it is and the specifications on tires and all that it’s been eye-opening, but I really enjoyed it.”
Campbell and Holmes’ tour of the Grand Prix and Belle Isle included meeting legendary IndyCar owner Roger Penske.
“The man you can tell he got the love for (racing), and to be the entrepreneur more than the visionary that he is, and to still be doing something that started with his dad when he was young and here, we are now he has been able to shape and mold it and bring it to a place like Detroit,” Campbell said about meeting Penske.
“I was that was a major honor to meet him and everything that he’s about. It’s a little bit intimidating. It’s just, what a man, he’s top-notch. He’s done it all. He’s highly successful. You wonder if you’re worthy of even being around him a little bit. You’d love to someday feel like you are him in some ways, you know, to be able to mold and shape and do things he’s done.”
Despite not having the luxury of playing in Detroit as Campbell has, Holmes isn’t a stranger to Detroit. Holmes’ uncle, former Lions cornerback Luther Bradley, gave his nephew advice about the city.
“He told me how passionate this fan base was, and how great I loved this city when I was even getting an opportunity to even interview. So, I knew a lot about it,” Holmes said “Obviously, growing up, He’s my mom’s brother. So, we spent a lot of holidays growing up in the city but didn’t get a chance to explore it. But he gave me all the awareness of the fan base, how passionate they are. It’s been everything that he said it was”
Campbell understands the task of engaging fans in the Detroit community is more than just making public appearances in the offseason.
“I appreciate the people in this community and the fans and I want them to know and everybody to know that I don’t take it lightly and I understand there are expectations that come with this job,” Campbell said. “You can’t just be a guy that everybody likes. You gotta win games, believe me, I know that so but I do appreciate the support that we have. We want to get the pride back in this organization and this team.”
“This city is a football city,” Bud Denker, chairman of the Detroit Grand Prix, said. “They want a winner. You give a little bit of hope, and they’re going to be there every day hoping for it.”
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions’ Dan Campbell, Brad Holmes soaking in fans’ passion
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