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Wings' captain enjoys fast lap on Belle Isle

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

DETROIT – Speed can surely get the heart beating, especially when the source is a muscle car that does 0-60 in 3.7 seconds.

Generally, hockey players have always shown affection for velocity. Usually it’s on the ice. But when asked to pilot a pace car around the city streets on Belle Isle during Labor Day weekend, Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom couldn’t turndown the invitation.

Chevrolet asked Lidstrom drive a 2007 Corvette Z06 to pace the start of the Detroit Sports Car Challenge in the American Le Mans Series.

“It was a great experience; I had a blast,” Lidstrom said. “It was a fun car, and I wish I had more time with it. I’ll do it again in a heartbeat.”

Lidstrom led the Le Mans field of 27 sports cars to a rolling start of the race. He also led a parade lap prior to the IndyCar race on the final day of the Detroit Grand Prix.

“I got out there for a couple of practice laps before the actual race started,” he said. “I was the

Nicklas Lidstrom receives words of wisdom from his driving instructor before heading out onto the Belle Isle course to begin the American Le Mans Series race in Detroit on Sept. 1.
second car going around and then we went into the pit stop and that’s when they all started. I got it up to about 100 (m.p.h.) on the straight-aways. It was a fun car and fun to get the chance to drive it, especially on that course and the conditions.

“There’s some 90-degree angles and curves, so those guys are flying.”

Asked if he ever reached that kind of speed on city streets before, Lidstrom said, “Yes, I have.” But he was quick to point out that it was “in Germany though, on the Autobahn.”

In past years, some IndyCar drivers have suggested that the Belle Isle course was too tough on their race cars. After the experience, Lidstrom begged to differ.

“On the car I was driving, it’s a street car,” he said. “It’s made for those kind of (street) conditions. The other cars are so stiff, so I’m sure the drivers can feel every little bump. But the speed that I was going at, in the car I had, there were no problems at all.

“It was fun to just get a feel for the course. When you watch it on TV it’s tough to see the entire course, but this was fun driving around it.”

Lidstrom joins comedian Jay Leno, baseball hall of famer Cal Ripken and actor Patrick Dempsey as celebrities who have driven Corvettes at major racing events over the last few years.

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