The soap opera that is the Baltimore Grand Prix continues to be an on again off again proposition. The latest issues seem to have the Labor Day race weekend event in doubt again after the promoters of the race failed to meet certain benchmarks. Will the race go on?
A couple of months ago, Downforce Racing, the race promoters who purportedly came in to rescue the apparent demise of the popular event, signed an agreement with the city and IndyCar to organize the Baltimore Grand Prix for the next five years. But they are out now and questions are abounding.
There has been a tug-a-war amongst those in the cities politics as well as the citizenry. Even though most are in favor of the race, there has been plenty of angst as to whether Baltimore should have the race or not. The city officials had endorsed Downforce Racing but now seem to be tight-lipped about the promoter's lack of progress in marketing the event or selling tickets (source - WJZ). Is it possible that the grand prix won't be run?
Last year, the city cut ties with Baltimore Racing Development (BRD) due in part to BRD owing the city $1.5 million in taxes and fees, which was to have been paid by the end of 2011. It was expected that the grand prix would produce $11 million in tax revenue and a couple thousand jobs, plus it was at first thought to be a huge success all-around. The economic impact for the city of Baltimore generated by the race weekend was $47 million - that can be argued now but regardless, a hunt for a new promoter was on.
Then this past February, Downforce Racing was brought in. The new organizers had stated that they felt confident in landing a title sponsor though they could run the event without one. That may have been their undoing. So would the show go on?
Here's the answer
With just four months until the race is set to run, IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard is now searching for another partner. The key here for why this is so important to IndyCar can't be stressed enough and may be why IndyCar themselves would promote the race. Contractually, IndyCar is obligated to operate at least 16 races a year for its series partner, IZOD. Simply, IndyCar's agreement with IZOD is for 16 events and if they should lose the Baltimore Grand Prix, millions of dollars would be at risk for the series.
So unless the city and IndyCar can find another promoter quickly, IndyCar will feel obliged to operate and manage the race. And Bernard understands the situation: "The city and IndyCar continue to work together to ensure this event takes place. We are currently evaluating a couple different options and we understand that time is of the essence." (Source - Baltimore Sun)
The city of Baltimore's mayoral spokesman said in an email: "Discussions with IndyCar are ongoing and we are working closely with them reviewing all options. No further comment at this time." The show will go on but I'm sure there's a lot of hand-wringing going on in Indianapolis as well as in Baltimore.
Sources - IndyCar
Daryle has been involved in motorsports most of his life and has three decades of experience inside racemarketing, plus for several years has blogged about every type of racing.