Cast of characters (Fair side)

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Joe Nederlander — Part of the family that runs the Nederlander theatrical organization, which includes the Fisher and Masonic locally. In 1999, Nederlander began secret negotiations to lease the Michigan State Fairgrounds and create a $200 million entertainment venue.

John Hertel — A longtime friend of Nederlander. The Democratic chairman of the Macomb County Board of Commissioners, Hertel was appointed by Gov. John Engler to run the state fair.

Curtis Hertel — John’s brother and a former state legislator; now a lobbyist for IMG auto race promoters.

John Engler — Michigan’s arch conservative governor.

Bernie Schrott — An Oakland County developer, Schrott played a key role in brokering deals throughout Joe Nederlander's wild ride.

Eugene Driker — Resident of one of the neighborhoods west of Woodward that have battled plans for auto racetrack at the fairgrounds.

Bill Davidson — Multimillionaire owner of the Detroit Pistons. Davidson tried and failed to build a racetrack at the fairgrounds in 1996.

Rev. Royce Lester — A friend and ally of Nerderlander’s, pastor of the Original New Grace Baptist Church east of the fairgrounds.

Mayor Dennis Archer — Detroit leader out of the loop when it came to plans to put a racetrack at the fairgrounds.

Bob Handley — Resident of the Green Acres neighborhood west of the fairgrounds; he is growing weary of fighting the secret dealings and what he considers the abuses of public power.

H. Kent Stanner — Corporate vice president for IMG Motorsports, the company that used to stage the Grand Prix on Belle Isle and wants to bring auto racing back to Detroit.

J. Leonard Hyman — Joe Nederlander’s longtime attorney.

George Ward — Formerly a top guy in the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, he was recruited by taxpayers to fight what they considered to be a rip-off.

Edward Rosenberg — Another longtime friend of Nederlander’s; the limited liability partnership he formed with Bernie Schrott entered into an agreement to buy 35 acres of former state land from his pal, then agreed to sell it to the Detroit Public Schools for a $7 million profit, less environmental cleanup costs. Deal is now in doubt. —C.G.

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