Sep 2, 2013, 9:00 PM EST
In only three years, the Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT has established itself on the best place on the IndyCar calendar to enjoy a healthy helping of contact, controversy, and crab cakes.
Its place is not yet secured for 2014 despite all indications from the series and race promoters Andretti Sports Marketing, that they’re working to find a suitable date (early to mid-August seems the likely landing point).
Baltimore feels a bit like the red-headed step child among IndyCar street circuits. It doesn’t have Long Beach’s legacy, St. Petersburg’s opening-event buzz, Detroit’s Roger Penske backing, or Toronto’s Canadian selling point.
What it does have, in spurts, is talking and selling points. From the infamous Pratt Street chicane, to the train tracks, to a gorgeous backdrop at Camden Yards and the Inner Harbor, and the nature of the track itself, the passing – and crashing – opportunities are endless. It’s also in a good market for sponsors, as there aren’t a ton of races on the East Coast.
Contrast Sunday’s race with the one at Mid-Ohio about a month ago. The 90 laps on the permanent road course there went caution-free and featured relatively minimal passing, and came down largely to pit strategies and ultimately a late move by Charlie Kimball over Simon Pagenaud.
Sunday at Baltimore was a wrecking free-for-all that ignited tempers, stirred rivalries and created controversies. And has got people talking.
Mid-Ohio was a purer race, while Baltimore was certainly entertaining when it was green. And to be fair to Baltimore, it wasn’t the race with the most cautions this year (7 occurred at Brazil and Sonoma) and was also down from 9 last year to 6 this Sunday, even if it at times it seemed like the cautions wouldn’t stop. The one thing that goes against it was the stretch from Laps 40 to 65, the near constant string of cautions that dropped the average speed below 68 mph.
Which race will you remember more? For me, I’d amend the line from “Wedding Crashers” to “Crab cakes and contact – that’s what Maryland does!”
Baltimore almost seems IndyCar’s street circuit version of a cage match. You have enough evidence now to know that this race is going to be a crash-fest. You know you’ll get some good views of the city and skyline. You know you’ll get a surprise podium – Sam Schmidt’s, Sarah Fisher’s and Jay Penske’s teams finished in the top three spots on Sunday – and that variety is invariably more interesting than yet another Penske-Ganassi podium sweep.
But it’s not like the Penske-Ganassi subplot wasn’t evident either. It was big. It was controversial. It was the rivalry back on the front burner with the latest Scott Dixon-Will Power dust-up. It was probably the biggest talking point coming out of the weekend.
It’s for all those reasons I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the Grand Prix of Baltimore. The hate is only for all the contact – if the race could have been just a little cleaner, not had that second Turn 1 pileup and a third one in Turn 3, for instance – I think it would have been an even better race.
But man there’s a lot to love, if you actually make the effort to go. You can tell the effort the ASM team puts into the event. Last year they needed to resuscitate the race from a shoddy first-year promoter, but this year they made some improvements. On the corporate side, adding the “Chicane Suites” at the track’s most notorious corner was a great way to show the partners of the event the most discussed part of the track.
As for the paddock layout, it was much improved this year with a Family Fun Zone – a la its sister event in Milwaukee – put in immediately east of the IndyCar paddock and in the air-conditioned Baltimore Convention Center, was a great thing to attract the next generation of IndyCar fans. Speaking as the youngest full-time member of the IndyCar media corps, I can’t express how pivotal it is to get the younger crowd, especially those who live outside of Indianapolis, interested in IndyCar racing.
A race like Baltimore may not have the cache, the cleanliness or the glory of some of the other events on the calendar. But damn if this isn’t IndyCar’s version of the crazy uncle you can’t wait to see every year just to see what unexpected thing will happen next.
Dec 13, 2013, 11:26 AM EST
A few more pieces have fallen into place for IndyCar 2014, with the biggest remaining domino on the market, the fourth Chip Ganassi Racing seat, now filled today with Ryan Briscoe. Here’s what we know since our last update immediately after Fontana: CONFIRMED CARS (21) Chip Ganassi Racing (4 cars, Chevrolet): Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan,…
Dec 13, 2013, 10:50 AM EST
Ryan Briscoe has been confirmed Friday as Chip Ganassi Racing’s fourth driver for the 2014 IndyCar season, although not in the No. 10 Target Chevrolet as had been forecast over the last week or so. Coupled with new baby Finley, born a few days ago, it’s been quite a week for Ryan and wife Nicole.…
Dec 13, 2013, 10:15 AM EST
The Andretti Sports Marketing group has been selected as official event organizers for the new FIA Formula E Championship’s Miami street race, which will occur on March 14, 2015. Miami will be one of two U.S. races, along with Los Angeles, for the new all-electric open-wheel series. In just the last two years, ASM has…
Dec 13, 2013, 9:51 AM EST
Adrian Sutil has been confirmed as Sauber’s first driver for the 2014 Formula One season. The move marks Sutil’s first switch of teams after six prior seasons (2007-’11, 2013) with the Spyker/Force India operation. “I am determined to do my part in order to have a successful future together with the Sauber F1 Team,” he…
Dec 12, 2013, 8:05 PM EST
We can rule out Alex Tagliani as a potential newcomer to Chip Ganassi Racing for the 2014 IndyCar Series. The French-Canadian driver, who replaced Dario Franchitti in this year’s season finale and tested Ganassi’s No. 10 Chevrolet recently in Florida, has confirmed that he would not be joining the powerhouse outfit. However, Tagliani felt that…
Dec 12, 2013, 7:17 PM EST
Pirelli World Challenge driver Shea Holbrook (pictured) is one of eight female drivers that will receive a grant from the Women’s Sports Foundation. The WSF’s “Women in the Winner’s Circle Project Podium Grant” is designed to support them through business challenges in their careers. “I’m incredibly honored and thrilled to be a part of the…
Dec 12, 2013, 5:00 PM EST
Mazda Road to Indy competitors Spencer Pigot (Orlando, Fla.) and Neil Alberico (Los Gatos, Calif.) have been chosen as the inaugural representatives for Rising Star Racing, a new organization that plans to provide funding and support for select young drivers as they move up the racing ladder. IndyCar Series veteran Josef Newgarden has also signed…
Dec 12, 2013, 4:24 PM EST
Although reports floated out that Sergio Perez is bringing tens of millions in euros to his seat at Force India, team principal Vijay Mallya rubbished the suggestion that commercial interests are what made the decision to hire the Mexican. “That’s against my basic philosophy,” Mallya stated during Thursday’s press conference announcing Perez to the team’s…
Dec 12, 2013, 4:00 PM EST
Two weeks after purchasing the 7/8-mile Iowa Speedway, NASCAR has announced that 28-year-old Jimmy Small will take over as the track’s new president. Small has worked with NASCAR for the past six seasons, and most recently served as senior manager for team marketing services within the sanctioning body’s Industry Services division. He worked as a…
Dec 12, 2013, 3:28 PM EST
The INDYCAR sanctioning body has announced that IndyCar Series engine suppliers Chevrolet and Honda will expand into producing their own aero kits for the Dallara DW12 chassis beginning in the 2015 season. As part of plans announced back in June to increase the sport’s innovations, aero kits are set to be introduced in that season…
Dec 12, 2013, 2:15 PM EST
In an updated edition of its 2014 sporting regulations, the FIA confirmed that drivers will now compete for a pole position trophy throughout the Formula One World Championship. Regarding the new award, the regulations state the following: “A trophy will be awarded to the driver who sets the most pole positions during the championship season…
Dec 12, 2013, 1:30 PM EST
With Nico Hulkenberg and, as of this morning, Sergio Perez set as the 2014 driver lineup for Force India, both Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil are now looking for new rides. But di Resta in particular has been rumored to possibly leave the Grand Prix circuit altogether for another racing discipline. That said, his…
Dec 12, 2013, 12:30 PM EST
NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Rookie-of-the-Year award has been through a rough few years before 2013, when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Danica Patrick contended for the title. The previous three winners from 2010 to 2012 – Kevin Conway, Andy Lally and Stephen Leicht – were all stuck with subpar equipment and were basically the only drivers entered…
Dec 12, 2013, 12:00 PM EST
As we did for IndyCar, here’s a wrap of my MotorSportsTalk colleague Chris Estrada and my post-season wraps on the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. All posts in one place in case you missed any of them. FEATURES Johnson humble, thankful in banquet speech Jay Mohr’s skewering banquet monologue (VIDEO) NASCAR 2014 silly season…
Dec 12, 2013, 11:30 AM EST
Over the weekend, Audi released a teaser shot of the new-for-2014, but same-name-for-2014, R18 e-tron quattro that will compete in the LMP1 category of the FIA World Endurance Championship. Audi’s official, official reveal with driver lineup will take place next week, as the iconic German manufacturer looks to spread the news out over a long…
Dec 12, 2013, 11:00 AM EST
Yesterday, we began our F1 season review with a look back at the biggest stories in the paddock. Now, without further adieu, we’ll follow up with our respective Top 10 driver lists. Tony DiZinno’s Top 10 Drivers 1. Sebastian Vettel: The first half of the year seemed a false dawn. Yeah, Vettel was good, and…
Dec 12, 2013, 10:15 AM EST
The winner of the last IndyCar race of the 2013 season, Will Power, has had a bit of time on his hands since the season finale at Auto Club Speedway in October. He made a pit stop into the IndyCar offices in Indianapolis this week, and one of his engagements was participating in IndyCar’s first…
Dec 12, 2013, 9:40 AM EST
Films nominated for Golden Globes tend to have a decent chance of also being nominated for the Academy Awards. So in that sense, it is very good news for Ron Howard’s “Rush,” which received two Golden Globe nominations Thursday morning. “Rush,” which of course captures the drama and battle for the 1976 Formula One World Championship…
Dec 12, 2013, 9:17 AM EST
Sergio Perez arrived late on Formula One’s driver market for 2014, but the Mexican played his way into a seat anyway after strong performances in the final two races when he knew he was a free agent. Perez shifts from McLaren to Force India for 2014, where he will team alongside Nico Hulkenberg. It’s a…
Dec 11, 2013, 8:45 PM EST
After 11 teams contested this year’s Formula One World Championship, the FIA is now looking for a 12th franchise to join the F1 grid in either the 2015 or 2016 season. Potential entries have been asked to submit a formal expression of interest and an initial administration fee of $5,000 to the FIA by Jan.…
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