Video Vault: Cleveland Grand Prix had big stars and night racing at Burke Lakefront Airport

CLEVELAND - The Cleveland Grand Prix was a unique race at a unique location, but sadly is no longer held.

The location, along Lake Erie at Burke Lakefront Airport, was like no other race course. A national TV audience saw Cleveland shine with its skyline in the distance and sailboats on the lake.

The city of Cleveland and race promoters petitioned the Federal Aviation Administration to allow the shutdown of airport for the race. Other cities would try, but Cleveland was the only city granted permission to turn its runways and taxiways into a race track.

Civic boosters ballyhooed the economic impact of race week. They maintained the race brought more money into the city in one week than an entire Browns football season did.

The Indy Car/CART (Championship Auto Racing Team) series of races began July 4, 1982 and would have name changes, course changes and sponsor changes until its final race in 2007.

Mergers in the racing industry put the Cleveland race on the scheduling bubble. Promises the race would return were rumored in 2008 and 2009, but those promises didn’t materialize.

We here at WEWS dubbed the race and events surrounding it, "The Roar by the Shore".

In our video player, I’ve posted two race stories, one with stars and the other with cars.

On July 6, 1990, WEWS reporter Lou Maglio looks at the drivers and entertainment stars in town to attend the race.

Racing stars Emerson Fittipaldi and Medina’s own Bobby Rahal are seen track side.

Driver Danny Sullivan poses for pictures and talks with Heather Locklear. Locklear’s then-husband, rocker Tommy Lee and his band Motley Crue played a gig in Cleveland the previous night. Lou talks with Motley Crue singer Vince Neil.

In 2003, the Cleveland Grand Prix was held at night, a first for a CART road course race.

Videographer Mark Durdak shot and edited a natural sound story on the nighttime "Roar by the Shore". Durdak chronicles the sights and sounds of the race.

Sebastien Bourdais of France won the 2003 race, Danny Sullivan was in 1990.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments