It's official: IRL adds Baltimore to 2011 schedule
Baltimore Racing Development (BRD) formally announced June 2 that the Baltimore Grand Prix will be part of the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule beginning in 2011. The inaugural event has been scheduled for August 5-7, and will be contested on a 2.4-mile temporary street circuit around the scenic Inner Harbor area of downtown Baltimore.
BRD also announced that the event will be an annual fixture on the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule for at least five years, thanks to multi-year contracts with the Indy Racing League and City of Baltimore.
The announcement follows the unanimous approval earlier this summer of both a Baltimore City Council resolution and a vote of the Maryland Stadium Authority to formally support BRD's efforts to pursue bringing an IZOD IndyCar Series race to Baltimore.
"This is an historic day for Baltimore and the State of Maryland, as well as the entire East Coast Region, as we have finalized plans for the IZOD IndyCar Series racing in Baltimore in 2011," said Jay Davidson, CEO of the Baltimore Grand Prix and Baltimore Racing Development. "When we began our pursuit of this race over two years ago, we had a number of major steps to accomplish and are so thankful to the State, City and the community for embracing our efforts. This three-day festival of speed will not just include car racing, but will feature family-friendly activities, offer great entertainment and much, much more."
Among those joining Davidson for the announcement at the Baltimore Convention Center were Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Indy Racing League commercial division president Terry Angstadt, IZOD IndyCar Series driver Graham Rahal and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr.
"This is an extraordinary opportunity for Baltimore to shine in the national spotlight, and benefit from the millions in tourism dollars it will bring to our state," said Gov. O'Malley. "The Baltimore Grand Prix will add to the impressive list of exciting and significant sporting and entertainment events Maryland is home to every year."
"In August 2011, our city will be the home for one of the most exciting sporting events in the world," said Mayor Rawlings-Blake. "I want to thank the governor, BRD and IndyCar officials for your role in making this race a reality for Baltimore. In addition to filling city hotel rooms and restaurants, this street race will change the way the world sees Baltimore as a result of global media exposure to millions of Indy Racing League fans who attend similar events in San Paulo, Brazil, Long Beach and St. Petersburg."
The Indy Racing League is the sanctioning body for the IZOD IndyCar Series, North America's premier open-wheel racing series. There were a number of factors that made Baltimore an attractive option to the Indy Racing League.
"We are very excited to partner with Baltimore Racing Development to add the Baltimore Grand Prix to the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule," Angstadt said. "Baltimore is a vibrant market that is strategically located in the heart of the Mid-Atlantic region. The Inner Harbor will make for a spectacular setting for the race, and Baltimore's downtown area has all of the elements necessary for a successful event weekend. The track design will no doubt produce exciting racing for both drivers and fans alike. We are thankful for the leadership of Baltimore Racing Development, as well as Gov. O'Malley and Mayor Rawlings-Blake, who have made today possible."
The Baltimore Grand Prix will be a combination of racing and festivities that will begin Friday morning and culminate on Sunday with the IZOD IndyCar Series race. The event will be billed as a "three-day festival of speed," and organizers are planning a variety of non-racing activities such as a family fun zone, go-karting, beer gardens, extreme sports demonstrations and professional beach volleyball. Live music will be available all weekend, from local artists performing throughout the day to nationally-known acts in the evenings. The event offers something for all Marylanders and organizers intend for the event to be very family-friendly.
In addition to the IZOD IndyCar Series, the Baltimore Grand Prix will feature a number of support series races.
The Baltimore Grand Prix is expected to attract more than 100,000 people to the area and have an estimated economic impact of $70 million, based on visitor spending on hotel nights, meals, tickets and other purchases. The racetrack will be constructed around the streets of downtown Baltimore, including sections of Russell Street by Oriole Park at Camden Yards, West Pratt Street and along the Inner Harbor on Light Street. Tickets for the event will go on sale this fall and will be offered at a variety of price levels to make the event affordable for all fans. A wide range of sponsorship and hospitality opportunities will also be available for the Baltimore Grand Prix, ranging from title sponsorship to corporate hospitality suites.
Baltimore Racing Development, LLC was formed in 2008 with the intention to bring a grand prix street race to Baltimore in 2011. BRD retained Unser, Chuck Kosich of MJ Promotions (which owned and operated both the Houston Grand Prix and the Cleveland Grand Prix) and Martyn Thake, a track designer who has designed grand prix racetracks on three continents.