Aug 31, 2013, 3:40 PM EDT
From my perspective, the Grand Prix of Baltimore has become a destination stop on the IZOD IndyCar Series calendar. The downtown and waterfront settings make for beautiful visuals, while the two-mile street circuit itself creates lively racing.
If only it hadn’t made such a bad first impression. Of course, I’m talking about the substantial amounts of money that were lost on the race’s inaugural running in 2011.
The past financial debacle has created a reputation that the event must overcome in order to have a long-term future. Race On Baltimore and Andretti Sports Marketing have worked hard to stabilize it (and make sure the bills are actually paid), but as noted by the Baltimore Sun, this third go-round will be a very important one.
There’s always seemed to be a substantial group of people that have been opposed to racing in Baltimore. Some of their complaints are typical, such as noise and road closings.
Then there are others who put forth the valid question of why so much emphasis is being put on a street race when Baltimore is grappling with other issues such as crime and urban blight.
When I lived near and worked in Baltimore for a short time after I graduated from college, I was constantly reminded by the nightly news of how tough that city can be.
And that is why I’m hoping the Grand Prix can continue on in the years ahead. Maybe I’m being too idealistic, but who’s to say the race can’t help burnish the city’s image in the eyes of the world? Who’s to say it can’t play a positive role in its future?
Baltimore has a lot going for it, and not just sports-wise. It has a lively arts scene, lots of leafy neighborhoods, and is well-known in health and science circles for its world-class hospitals.
And for the last three years, it’s been home to what has been a highly entertaining motorsports event.
A Labor Day racing festival obviously can’t solve all of the city’s problems, which are quite formidable. But I would think that the Grand Prix can serve to help raise its standing, just like the art festivals and the Inner Harbor and the Ravens and O’s do.
It’s understandable why the race hasn’t achieved widespread praise yet. However, in my opinion, any event that does its best to bring in money and provide a form of unique entertainment for the public shouldn’t be looked at as a source of complete negativity, either.
Time will tell if Baltimore will stay a racing town. I’m hoping it does.
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