14 September 2013
No return to Baltimore for IndyCar
In a surprise announcement on Friday evening, the IZOD IndyCar Series said that Baltimore would not be on the 2014-5 season calendars despite having just staged a popular and successful third outing.
IndyCar will not be returning to Baltimore in 2014 of 2015, the IZOD IndyCar Series management team announced on Friday evening.
"After a successful visit to Baltimore, which included record attendance, we are disappointed that our schedules will not align to host an event in 2014," said Mark Miles, the chief executive officer of IndyCar's parent company Hulman & Co.
"We continue to finalize our 2014 schedule and anticipate announcing it prior to the end of our 2013 season," Miles added.
The reason given is that other events are already scheduled to be staged in Baltimore over the key Labor Day weekend public holiday, and that it wasn't possible to find an alternative date on the calendar that worked for the city, IndyCar and also for the American Le Mans Series which staged an events of its own there over the same weekend.
"This was simply a matter of trying to find the best date that worked for all parties, since Labor Day weekend was not an option in 2014," confirmed Miles. "We are thankful to the city of Baltimore, Race On and Andretti Sports Marketing for their support and enthusiasm for the event over the years."
The 2014 Labor Day weekend is being taken over by the Ohio State and Navy American football teams facing off at M&T Bank Stadium, while 2015 sees the American Legion holding its week-long convention in town. Both events would take over the convention centre and sporting facilities needed by the motorsports teams. A return to Baltimore is still theoretically possible in 2016, although insiders say it is very unlikely to happen in practice.
“I'm sad that it's ending, but so much good has come of this,” said JP Grant, one of the prime movers behind the Baltimore Grand Prix as head of local event owners and organisers Race On LLC. "It was truly just the dates.
“They wanted Baltimore but they understood the reality,” added Grant, referring to the IndyCar and ALMS series managements. “They understood this Rubik's cube we've been going through."
One possible date in June would have worked for IndyCar, but was off the table for ALMS because it would have conflicted with the build-up to the Le Mans 24 Hour race. A second date in September went against IndyCar's plans to try and wrap up its season before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase play-offs and the start of the NFL season started to affect audience figures.
“Race On will not be able to participate in hosting the race going forward,” said Grant, drawing a line under any plans to be involved in any potential revival of the race in 2016. "Everyone involved in this matter has worked diligently and of good faith to make it happen. We explored every possible option."
This year's Baltimore event saw attendance of 152,864, up from 131,500 in 2013, but the race wasn't able to attract a title sponsor. The event was popular with fans, team and drivers despite problems with a chicane on the front stretch that caused a major pile-up at the start of the ALMS event that required an hour-long clean-up and halved the time available for the race once it resumed.
“My goal in supporting the Grand Prix was twofold: improve Baltimore's tourism over a traditionally slow Labor Day weekend and present Baltimore to a worldwide audience," Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said. "By all accounts the Grand Prix of Baltimore accomplished these goals by generating millions in revenue."
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