For a few minutes there, it seemed like all of the work for the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix was going to literally come apart. Pieces of the road surface were coming up under the stress of the high-performance machines. It brought the race to a rarely seen red flag. The entire thing came to a halt.
In the grandstands, we could hear the doubts about whether a quick concrete patch would work. The jokes started on Twitter…Ndamokong Suh should just “stomp” the pavement patching back into place and there was even a fake Twitter account for the potholes set up. We had to go inspect what was happening for ourselves, as the jumbo-tron wasn’t quite cutting it. We could scarcely believe our eyes as our hearts sank. Not again, I thought. Not now.
But none of that mattered to Bud Denker.
Having covered quite a few sporting events, the last thing I thought I would see is the Grand Prix chairman on the course himself laying patch down. People in the crowd were slightly amazed … those who knew who he was … that this man, who has worked so hard behind the scenes, was literally throwing his back (and shoulders) into this, yet another, Detroit challenge.
Due to his and his team’s hard work, racing resumed two hours later when no one thought it could.
Here’s the topper that will always make Bud Denker a class act in my book. After the race, we’re all leaving and here he is … alone, on a small motorcycle in the middle of the crowd as they stream by … personally apologizing to everyone about the track and asking them to come back next year. Most, again, had no idea who he was. But those of us who knew … this is a man who will be crushed about this when he goes to bed. He threw his heart and soul into these three days that on the balance were the kinds of days that make life worth living in Detroit.
So not only did he throw his back and shoulders into it, he owned up to the mistake even if it wasn’t his because he was the guy in charge. That’s simply what true leaders do.
Leaders who are willing to roll their up sleeves and do the work that needs to be done instead of pointing fingers. Now that is something we could use a lot more of in this town.