Tag: baltimore grand prix

After Almost Getting Its Act Together, This May Be Final Year for Baltimore Grand Prix



The first Baltimore Grand Prix was, in some respects, a fiasco. The organizers went bankrupt, failing to pay their bills to the city and replace the 198 trees they cut down (something the city eventually went ahead and did on its own at a cost of $41,500). And the economic impact fell far short of projections.

The second one got off to a poor start — the race’s new organizers dissolved before accomplishing virtually anything — but was eventually salvaged with the help of IndyCar driver Michael Andretti and a third group of race organizers — who counted on losing money but promised to pay their bills anyway. Attendance was down, and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake declined to conduct an economic impact study.

This year’s race is easily the least Mickey-Mouse to date, and yet the future of the race has never been more uncertain. M&T Bank Stadium is all booked up for the next two Labor Day Weekends. And searching for a weekend that doesn’t conflict with events at M&T, Oriole Park, and the Convention Center has proved “frustrating.” 

Are We Better Off Just Not Knowing the Grand Prix’s Economic Impact?


The mayor will not pursue an economic impact study of this year’s Grand Prix. And the race organizers have said they will probably never release an official count of spectators.

The mayor’s spokesman, Ryan O’Doherty, spins the city’s decision not to examine the race’s bottom line by pointing to the “undisputed fact” that “the event has a significant positive economic impact.” Or is it that we just don’t want to know?

How This Year’s Grand Prix Will Be Different


Race On LLC, which took over organizing the Baltimore Grand Prix three months ago, has been using that time to alter the event to address complaints over last year’s Labor Day Weekend street race. They say they met with residents and local businesses to hear what was inconvenient or problematic about the much maligned 2011 event, and to accept suggestions for improvement. I bet they got an earful!

Despite Expecting to Lose Money, Grand Prix Organizers Promise to Pay All Bills


You gotta love this. Race On, the current Baltimore Grand Prix organizers are expecting to lose money on this year’s street race, and have insisted that despite that no fees will go unpaid. It’s good fodder for Baltimore’s pastime of self-deprecation — year two of this godforsaken race, and it’s still a losing venture!

On the other hand, new businesses rarely turn a profit in their first year. And that’s apparently how Race On’s financier, J.P. Grant, looks at it. “My goal for this year is to stabilize the race,” he told The Sun Tuesday. And as funny as it sounds (well, to me, anyway), it’s probably just the attitude and perspective that Baltimore Racing Development, organizers of last year’s Grand Prix, lacked, which left them with no plan to repay vendors and the city after the numbers didn’t stack how they would have liked.

Baltimore Grand Prix: Same Old, Same Old


Here’s some déjà vu for you: the city is seeking a new group to organize Baltimore’s 2012 Grand Prix. Downforce Racing — the group that took over the annual IndyCar race after the 2011 organizers’ dissolved with fees unpaid, investors uncompensated, and trees unplanted — hasn’t done, well, anything that would lead you to believe they were planning to hold a high-speed auto race on Baltimore City streets in four months. They haven’t advertised it, sold tickets, or even signed agreements with IndyCar and the Maryland Stadium Authority.

I’m sure that organizing an event of this magnitude is hard, but is it that hard? I mean, people do it, right? These races take place without incident in other cities, right?

Anyway, one thing is for sure. Simply not holding the race is not an option the city is considering at this point. Despite no ticket sales and the likely difficulty of landing a sponsor with only four months to go, the city has been in talks with IndyCar “to ensure this event takes place.” If it comes to it, IndyCar is prepared to manage the race directly. (Man, how shameful would that be?)

Here’s hoping this year’s race goes better than last year’s — though there’s no indication that it will.

New Baltimore Grand Prix Group Beginning to Fall Apart


After last year’s Grand Prix organizers dissolved, leaving fees to the city and state unpaid and investors in the lurch, Baltimore got right back on the horse — er, car — signing a contract with a new group, Downforce Racing, to organize the Baltimore Grand Prix for the next five Labor Days.

Now, with the race only months away, Downforce Racing’s director of public affairs Chichi Nyagah-Nash has announced her resignation, saying she “didn’t jell” with the rest of the group. That’s half their staff gone. And The Sun has reported that Dale Dillon — one-third of Downforce’s partners and the only one who has ever promoted an IndyCar race — will likely leave the group.

Oh yeah, also, Downforce has not yet signed an agreement with IndyCar or the Maryland Stadium Authority to be able to put on the race.

If Downforce doesn’t pull it together, maybe the city should just put an ad on craigslist: “[email protected]@K!: Large Maryland city needs auto race promoter. Must be trustworthy and make the city millions of dollars. BEEN BURNED BEFORE! No liars, no deadbeats. GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO SHINE!”

I Love City Life: But Do I Know City Life?


Fun-snacks-and-ice-cold-drinks-aplenty bash to beat the heat: Live Baltimore hosts an “I Love City Life” happy hour this evening to say thanks to folks who’ve sported the local city-life-loving slogan on bumpers or license plates.

Jot down the details: 6 to 8pm at Gaslight Square, 1401 Severn Street.

Maybe you recognize the widespread yellow sticker but don’t know that the message links to Live Baltimore, the only organization dedicated to marketing Baltimore as a terrific and affordable place to live, with the two practical goals of repopulating the city and increasing its residential tax base. (If you didn’t know the sticker matched the nonprofit, you’re not alone!)

Baltimore City native Carolyn O’Keefe dreamed up the saying to express her true satisfaction with life in the city. She created a bumper sticker and awarded it to friendly people she met–at gas stations, groceries, wherever. New face by new face and neighbor by neighbor, O’Keefe spread her pro-city message. Since 1999, when O’Keefe donated stickers to Live Baltimore, the nonprofit has proudly touted “I Love City Life” as catchphrase, theme song, and battle hymn.

Tonight’s happy hour will help raise awareness for the Baltimore Grand Prix, which takes place Labor Day weekend, September 2-4, and marks the first time the “Festival of Speed” has zoomed through town.

“We created this event to celebrate a marriage – of city lovers and car lovers,” said Live Baltimore Executive Director Anna Custer-Singh. “This happy hour is intended to thank all of our license plate holders and raise awareness of a new Baltimore tradition, the Baltimore Grand Prix.”

A 10 dollar cover charge includes appetizers and drinks from Dogwood, Taharka Brothers Ice Cream, live music, and a shot at two Grand Prix tickets.

(Those who own an “I Love” license plate get free admittance!)

Online pre-registration is encouraged.