Baltimore Grand Prix a Qualified Success – Hopefully a Turning Point for IndyCar

This weekend’s Inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix has been a qualified success, with high attendance figures, a lot of media coverage, and good races from both American Le Mans Series and the IZOD IndyCar Series races.

Everyone had predicted chaos in the IndyCar race but in the end it was much calmer than predicted, whilst still containing plenty of strategy and a fair amount of passing. (particularly for Tony Kanaan who started at the back of the grid after a terrifying accident in practice, and ended third).

There’s no doubt that part of the circuit is too bumpy, other parts too tight, and the pit lane too short, but these issues can be rectified. The important thing was that the race looked fantastic on television, and made the City of Baltimore look pretty good too.

Whilst IndyCar already has street races on the schedule, this one is the real deal, it’s not tucked in some corner of town like Toronto or Valencia, or thrown onto an airport like St Petersburg and Edmonton. Only Long Beach and Monaco itself come close to the level of disruption required to put on the show.

So it was inevitable that there were to be teething problems, particularly with the traffic management, but also perhaps more unexpectedly, with the poor returns for the City’s restaurants and bars, who reported a downturn as locals stayed home.

There were also complaints that the circulation and access for spectators was poor and overcrowded. In some sense here the race was a victim of its own success, but the organisers will want to look at this aspect next year.

In Monaco, tickets are only checked on the grandstands themselves. The City is essentially one giant free of charge general admission area. Even the bars right behind the F1 paddock are available to anyone who takes a walk down there. This means that the restaurants and bars do good business between sessions.

Baltimore’s race is so well located that they could consider something similar for their race, opening the whole inner harbor area to the fun.

This would only increase interest more, decrease pressure on the restricted admission area, and hopefully bring an even greater return for the City.

Discounted tickets for locals would help too.

I am looking forward to next year already, let’s just hope they resurface the rest of the track, and I’m hoping the success and high profile of this event on a day that NASCAR was washed out marks a turning point for the IndyCar series.

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