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Baltimore, Dillon, Ft. LauderdaleUPDATE #3 IndyCar didn't like this rumor back in early April when we warned that Dale Dillon is a contractor, not a race promoter, and hence was not qualified to take over Baltimore or Ft. Lauderdale. With today's news from the Baltimore Sun, it seems our rumor had some real merit......now didn't it?
04/07/12 A 3rd reader adds, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I think it is both sad and shortsighted that the city of Baltimore, and the GP of Baltimore event thinks they can clear a profit after one year of operation, and reap the benefits of a grand prix street race.
As a previous grand prix rights holder, we never once expected to clear a profit after one year, nor did any of our investors at any given point. Their primary goal in the initial years was to grow business through B2B networking and the elite environment and attention that a grand prix event brings. Our expectation was to break even at the three-year mark and then begin to reap some profits off of sponsorship sales at year thee and beyond with long-term deals and contribution from local government after economic impact was documented and proven. It seems that economic impact has already been proven in Baltimore, yet the city and promoters seem to have a very unrealistic expectation of the returns of a grand prix event.
Here in Alabama, even with an established and well funded local facility (even though it is unrivalled in quality in the USA, and possibly the entire world) takes a long-term commitment to IndyCar as an asset that provides upscale recognition for the region and a conduit for business-to-business networking and growth.
The city of Baltimore expecting to make money after only year-one is short sighted, and fails to recognize the value of a grand-prix on the general recognition and growth of a metropolitan area that results from a grand prix event. Long Beach has been running for many years now, and can clearly be attributed to the areas transformation from a crime infested area, to an bustling upscale business district with top grade hotels, restaurants and a elevated waterfront district. All of this was spurred by the presence of a grand prix event, that was capitalized upon by local government and business officials. St. Pete is another example of the long-term commitment and benefits of a grand prix event.
Baltimore seems to have failed to recognize this. It's a shame for both IndyCar and Baltimore alike. My last thought is this - is it possible Dillon is being paid off by the France family to kill off the race because it usurps their nearby Richmond track and Dover isn't far away either? Lance Freespeed
04/07/12 Another reader adds, Dear AR1.com, One has to wonder what has happened to the Dillon group in regards to the Baltimore GP. The actions, or lack of actions, is puzzling to say the least, dangerous to IndyCar’s already seriously damaged reputation as a series you would want to work with, and then there is the implications on trying to develop the Ft Lauderdale race. Based on previous reporting, movement to bring a race to Ft. Lauderdale has been complicated by Dillon wanting in. But with Baltimore apparently near death, does IndyCar just tell Dillon, “Thanks, but no thanks” in regards to Baltimore and any future work on Ft Lauderdale.
Has anyone tried to get a comment from Dillon, or even from IndyCar? I mean there is a huge, lingering question of needing 16 races to meet contractual obligations with IZOD, so what replaces Baltimore if it indeed never makes it back? Schedule wise, Labor Day weekend doesn’t seem to work with many former IndyCar tracks like Elkhart, Watkins Glen, and Laguna would be too close to Infineon for back to back races. Obviously another oval would be nice, but it seems far too late to organize anything with ISC or Bruton Smith for one of their ovals, and there is a need to make IndyCar profitable by next year, or IMS pulls the plug.
IndyCar needs to get loud here, light some fires, make it clear to any promoter or would-be promoter that if they take on the responsibility of organizing and staging an IndyCar race, they better actually do it. Right now as far as Dillon is concerned, well if I were boss, he would have already been warned and at this point, any contract nullified due to several breaches. Then to make a bigger statement, IndyCar should immediately get behind Hunter-Reay’s group as this Florida market would be so good for IndyCar, much better than snoozerville St Pete, which is a nice circuit, just not the type of party town by any measure that is key to making an IndyCar street fest truly successful. That, and while I am not advocating IndyCar get into race promotion, I think it would serve them well to work more closely with promoters, especially new and young ones, as the current crop is pretty limited for IndyCar, and not all of them are worth working with, as appears to be the case with Dillon. Maybe I am wrong, but the silence on Baltimore is deafening and has gone on for too long for it not to affect the reputation of Dillon and of IndyCar. Andy Fogiel, Lansing, MI
04/06/12 A reader writes, Dear Autoracing1.com, I just went to the ‘Baltimore Grand Prix’ web site to buy tickets for my family of four and despite the race being in a few months time tickets are not even available for sale. I own a real estate business in the area and my partners and I were considering a suite because with three owners of our company our families will be 15 people and we could entertain some of our larger clients but when I checked the site about a month ago there was not even a phone number to call to enquire about suites or anything else for that matter. There still isn’t even a phone number to call and talk to anyone, any links to show what suites or grandstands are or what they cost despite their claim ‘we will be fully staffed by the end of February’. February has come and gone and still Nothing. (www.2012baltimoregrandprix.com)
I remember reading one of your articles a couple of months ago when everyone was so concerned the race may not happen this year due to the inexperience and incompetence of the first group that put it on and the consensus was Baltimore needed an experienced promoter. I was relieved to see our Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Kaliope Parthemos tell our local paper "The circle of people who have the expertise and experience is very small, and we will only be having discussions with that group of people," and that the city was relying on IndyCar to make sure we got just that, an experienced ethical promoter that would run the race professionally and make us all proud.
A week or so later when I read in the Baltimore Sun that the senior director of business affairs for IndyCar, Sarah Davis, vouched for the Dillon group “We find a lot of value in promoters who have experience running IndyCar events, and Dale has that experience,” and that not only did IndyCar want Dillon to take over the race but IndyCar would be willing to help Baltimore land a title sponsor if Dillon were involved when Davis said “I certainly think given the market and given the success of the event, it is something we will be looking to send our partners to, to take a look at,” so I think it is only natural I was dismayed when Honda issued a press release basically saying they would not consider becoming the title sponsor because they wanted to wait and see if the promoter really had the experience and ability IndyCar claimed to put on a quality event that Honda would be comfortable associating their name and brand with. I wondered what does Honda know that we don't?
Now I read the promoter, Down Force Racing, has missed four of six certification dates for one thing or another and hasn’t even countersigned the contract with the city for the race! No wonder Honda refused title sponsorship for the race.
What is going on? IndyCar better get on this Dillon guy as they vouched for him and it is IndyCar’s reputation that will suffer if this is another fiasco.
If this is IndyCar’s idea of how an "experienced" professional promoter runs things then to me and my partners, and a lot of people in Baltimore, looking in from the outside it looks like the blind leading the blind.
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