Tag: grand prix

Grand Prix Sponsor Launches $1.5 Million Offering


By Brian Wolak

BALTIMORE — Baltimore Racing Development has made a new $1.5 million offering to existing members, raising $423,000 from eight investors to date.

The sponsor of the well-received Baltimore Grand Prix – the three-day event featuring IndyCar and Le Mans style street races – took in $1.83 million from its former $2.75 million offering.

Grand Prix CEO Jay Davidson is named in a regulatory filing along with Walker Mygatt, managing director at Constellation Energy David Rather, owner of Mother’s Federal Hill Grille; Peter Collier, former deputy director of the city’s parking; Kenneth Banks, developer; Jerry Gottlieb, organizer; and William White. Read more at citybizlist.com.

Dario’s Party


Cocktails with Dario Franchitti, Radcliffe Jewelers, September 1

We weren’t very psyched about the Grand Prix, what with the cutting of the trees and the noise and the inconvenience. But we’ll concede that it seems like the weekend was a success: the bars and restaurants were packed, the hotels were sold out Friday and Saturday nights and the city got a public relations boost. If we have to have it (and with a five year contract, we do) better for it to succeed than fail.

One big success came Friday night. Racing’s striking star Dario Franchitti stepped out that night after practice to mix and mingle at Radcliffe Jewelers in Pikesville with jewelry lovers and race car driving fans to raise money for the The Herman & Walter Samuelson Children’s Hospital at Sinai. 

Five Minutes with Dario Franchitti

Have you ever had a speeding ticket?

I’v had a couple.

Would you mind telling me how fast you were going?

 I’d rather not.

What do you find most annoying about regular drivers?

When drivers are not paying attention. It doesn’t matter if you are going 30 (mph) or 120, you need to focus and not talk on the phone.

What is your pre-race routine? 

About an hour before the race, I try to clear my head. I do some stretching and spend time getting focused on the race.

Do you have a favorite movie of your wife Ashley Judd?

Well, I think they are all pretty good.



Sartorial Baltimorial Picks Prix Party Pics 





Grand Prix Recap: One Baltimore Spectator’s Varied POV


After weeks of hype, headaches and heated bickering, the Baltimore Grand Prix is in the history books. Massive crowds turned out (somewhere between 100,000 and 150,000 depending on whether you’re talking to police or Grand Prix officials), and, despite not having an official analysis of the fiscal numbers available, city officials are already declaring the Labor Day weekend event a success.

The jury will be out for some time as to whether the race served as a financial boon for the city, but as an event, it was worthwhile, if not without its headaches. As a first time IndyCar spectator and Baltimore sports fan, here’s are some lessons I learned attending this year’s race:

Yes, it’s a party, but make the racing the focus. The Baltimore Grand Prix boasted beer gardens, local celebrity appearances (hey, Michael Phelps!) and a full concert series, but the cars are the reason to go. I’m not a gear-head by any means, but I was in awe of the power of Sunday’s IndyCars and Saturday’s American Le Mans Series vehicles as they burned down Pratt Street. Double points for buying paddock pad tickets, which provided an inside view with all the race teams.

Make new friends, especially with the hardcore race aficionados. My tickets were in Grandstand 6, with a nice sight line of the Pratt Street straight away and a view of Light Street at the infamous Turn 1. The folks around me were big race fans, and talking and listening to them made it much easier to follow the action.

Even if you’re not going to the race, don’t be afraid to go downtown. As a daily commuter with a downtown parking pass, I was able to make it from North Baltimore to the Pier V garage in 10 minutes, faster than my regular workday drive. Anyone who wanted to take a trip to East Baltimore could have done so with ease. Precautions were understandable this year, but in the future the city will need to make sure those businesses in neighborhoods like Fell’s Point, Canton and Little Italy aren’t compromised by unwarranted traffic fears.

Improving logistics will be key to this event’s future. I arrived a few hours before the main event Sunday, and made it through the Inner Harbor’s Light Street pavilion entrance in 15 minutes. Others I spoke to, however, were stuck in entrance/exit lines for hours, waiting for police to let them through. There were fan reports of issues with VIP tickets and amenities, and other reports of grandstands missing entire rows of seats.  As a first-year event, these types of issues are inevitable. Fans won’t be so forgiving if these issues occur again in 2012.

Baltimore Grand Prix Brings Grand Parties, Race Car Royalty


The race may be the main event of the Grand Prix, but don’t worry if you’re not a fan of race cars — there will be a number of celebrations throughout the city over the entire weekend, and it seems all of race car driving’s top names will be in Baltimore to attend.

The festivities start tonight with the Adobe Road Wine Dinner which will feature driver Marc Bunting and other Prix competitors.  The dinner, which takes place at Morton’s The Steakhouse, will feature a preview of the Team Baltimore Racing show car.

Thursday night, Danica Patrick and Mike Conway will be appearing from 6-8 pm at Buffalo Wild Wings in Owings Mills.  Racers Marco Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay will be appearing at the same time at the White Marsh location of Buffalo Wild Wings.  There will also be free concerts at Power Plant Live featuring Lost in Paris and the Philly Party Band.  

Things really get going Friday night.  First, Radcliffe Jewelers and TW Steel will be hosting an in-store event with special appearance by reigning Indy 500 champion (and actress Ashley Judd’s husband), Dario Franchitti.  Franchitti, who currently holds first place in the 2011 IndyCar Series Standings, will be showcasing TW Steel’s extended watch line.  What’s more, the event will feature a live auction to raise money for The Herman & Walter Samuelson Children’s Hospital at Sinai.

If you want to see some live music, there will be more live concerts at Power Plant Live, as well as a Grand Prix Kickoff Party hosted by Olivia Newton-John and Terrell Owens at Rams Head Live.   

As the weekend continues, the Budweiser Block Party brings performances by Jimmie’s Chicken Shack, and the Infield Party Zone will feature performances by Collective Soul, Big Bad Voodoo Daddies, and more. 


Baltimore Green Prix? Hardly


Whatever words you’d pick to describe the upcoming Baltimore Grand Prix (thrilling? irritating? disruptive? speedy?), you probably wouldn’t settle on “sustainable.” But believe it or not, the event’s promoters are trying to re-brand the race as the — wait for it — Baltimore Green Prix.  And they’re proclaiming that the entire Festival of Speed will be “carbon neutral with zero net waste by 2015.” Forgive us if that seems highly unlikely.

First of all, consider the gas. These cars get less than two miles per gallon, and burn more than a gallon per lap. Then there’s the fact of the fuel itself:  while NASCAR only recently made the switch from super-toxic leaded gas (yike!), these cars run on more-renewable ethanol, a corn based fuel, which gets its own share of criticism for raising food prices (and, according to some, spurring global unrest). But the bigger impact may come from the cars of fans driving to the race itself. Then, of course, there’s the trash:  the Indianapolis 500 produces 500 tons of garbage, only about 4 percent of which gets recycled.

But, hey, maybe the organizers really want the Baltimore Grand Prix to be different. So what happens when you go to the Grand Prix website and click on “Carbon Footprint and Offsets”? Ahem. “Coming soon.” Other parts of the website include vague, wordy statements about the importance of the abstract quality of “greenness.” And then there’s the matter of all those  trees they cut down to make room for spectator stands…

Ultimately, the promoters seem to be saying that racing is good for the environment because it encourages car makers to make cars more light, powerful, efficient, and aerodynamic. “These advancements, which are accelerated when automobile manufacturers test them in a racing environment, ultimately transfer to and improve the performance of their street car, benefiting and helping to support a cleaner, greener environment.”

Look. Some of the most fun things in life are horribly damaging to the environment. It would be less irritating (to me, at least) if the Grand Prix didn’t attempt to convince us otherwise; go ahead and guzzle that gas, and don’t pretend that you’re going to figure out a way to make it “zero-impact” and “carbon neutral” in the next four years. It would be more honest, at least — but until I see real evidence pointing otherwise, I’m going to go ahead and say that the “Green Prix” is anything but.

Grand Prix Tree-Cutting Ceremony! (Sign Up to Fight It)


Sounds like the twisted premise of a “Simpsons” episode in which the greedy township shuns common sense, chops down big, old trees to provide a view of racecars in blurry action…and by show’s end, everyone sunburned and sorry, we all learn an eco-friendly, tree-worshipful lesson. Grand Prix organizers are right now in the process of removing 50 trees along the September race course of West Pratt and Light Streets, fewer than Grand Prix officials wanted to fell, all to improve the sight line. More than 1600 residents have signed a petition to halt the process.

According to Timothy B. Wheeler’s story in The Sun yesterday, the race’s assistant manager was originally quoted as saying that he planned to remove 136 trees before the race. Beth Strommen, director of the city’s Office of Sustainability, promised that won’t happen–50 max–and said she couldn’t account for the released misinformation. She also explained that race organizers have pledged to plant 59 new trees along the race corridor, and 135 elsewhere downtown. City officials have claimed “the trees to be planted by the Grand Prix over the next year would triple the leafy coverage of downtown.”

But tree-cutting critics argue quite logically that new trees won’t provide the benefits of the mature trees we’ve lost. They also complain the race’s already active lumberjacks haven’t upheld the city’s forest conservation code.

The city has signed on to host the Grand Prix for five years, during which time race organizers have supposedly pledged to water and maintain the incoming red maples, sycamores, and crape myrtles, many of which will start as 18- to 20-feet-high entities, not mere saplings. But we’re saddened by the loss of the old trees, some of them confirmed to be “big and healthy.” The city may have signed on for the exhaust-puffing car race, we’re signing that petition.