Baltimore Friday Noon Update Just keep reminding yourself – this is a new race, and glitches can be expected. Add to the mix a hurricane last weekend, and you just know that things will be behind schedule.
Local Baltimore residents have been hearing for months that the race promoters had – putting it politely – their problems getting this race on the track, and are very anxious not to look bad in front of the world. The traffic jams added to regular traffic woes. On top of that, some beautiful trees were cut down to facilitate the race, infuriating some of the locals.
Drivers and teams were supposed to arrive this morning to a track that was ready to go hot at 6:00 am. Instead, no on-track activities were possible until after lunch, and a revised schedule soon was abandoned too. Track officials blame the delay on last week’s hurricane, when the fences were taken down before the winds hit. Qualification for USF2000 and Star Mazda – cars driven by raw teenage rookies -- was cancelled, and teams were told they’d have maybe 30 minutes to practice on a track that absolutely no one had been on before. When USF2000 took the track the predictable spins and crashes happened.
IndyCar practice was pushed back until 4:00 pm.
As far as the IndyCar drivers are concerned, their biggest worry has to do with the pit area, which includes a U-turn getting back out to the track. Space is limited as well, adding to the potential for race-changing accidents as well.
Richmond, Virginia in (depending on traffic) only a couple of hours south, but it is obvious that the ISC management was worried about the Baltimore race taking away fans for their RIR event next weekend. Once again, ISC and NASCAR (different ends of the same building) have done whatever they can to do a bit of predatory marketing. For instance, RIR hosted a fan cruise with Kenny Wallace RIR takes Baltimore Cruise . The Baltimore promoters, who were then in something of disarray, seemed to be at the mercy of such efforts.
Long-time F1 fans remember that Long Beach’s first Grand Prix wasn’t a smooth effort. Local residents predict the conduct of this race will cost the Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake her job. Then again, her recent “robocall” election ads, which woke residents with a phone call at 4 am, probably won’t help either.
When the race was proposed, the course needed to be repaved, but no one had money for the project. The money that was eventually used came from designated Federal government money to Maryland, which then was made available to Baltimore, which is then to be returned back to Maryland’s general fund. Locals have said this is akin to money laundering, turning designated funds into general funds via the Grand Prix. Did I mention that the politics of this race were fierce even before the “circus” came to town?
Finally, there is the movie “Senna.” Senna movie Tony Kanaan hosted a showing of Senna last night in Baltimore, attended by at least 3 other IndyCar drivers. If you haven’t seen it... SEE IT. If you think you’ve seen all of the video on YouTube, you are mistaken. Attending the movie is like attending the opera -- in that you know it’s gonna badly for the star, but the footage will make your heart pound and the interviews will bring you close to tears. -- Tim Wohlford, reporting from Baltimore
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