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'Baltimore Grand Prix' could start in 2011 UPDATE #7 A helicopter crew will conduct a survey of the likely route of a proposed Grand Prix race in Baltimore on Saturday.

City officials will post notices warning motorists not to park along certain streets in the Inner Harbor and Camden Yards areas between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. to clear the roadways for an aerial and ground survey of the 2.44-mile route.

The survey is being done to determine whether the city needs to do any modification to the roads before the race could take place, Barnes said.

Ryan O'Doherty, a spokesman for Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake, said the survey could bring Baltimore one step closer to landing the high-profile, multiple-day auto race.

Jay Davidson, chief executive of Baltimore Racing Development, said his company envisions the Grand Prix as a three- to four-day event with multiple auto races, including a main event that would attract the top names in Indy-style racing.

O'Doherty and Davidson said the city and company are negotiating on how to share the costs of the survey.

Davidson said he hopes the company and city can wrap up a contract agreement by the end of this month. He said a final decision by the Indy Racing League on giving Baltimore the regional franchise could follow by another two or three weeks.

"They very much want this market," Davidson said. "They don't have anything in the Mid-Atlantic."

01/26/10 A reader adds, Organizers of the Baltimore Grand Prix are claiming it will bring a $100 million annual economic impact to the city?  They better hope that no one does a quick Google search to see what street races in other cities like San Jose, Long Beach, Cleveland and others have produced -- which are announced figures of around $30 million or so.  And we all know those figures are very generous anyway ... but $100 million?!  Sounds like organizers are trying to put a good face on an event that will probably need millions in subsidies from the City of Baltimore in difficult economic times. Jerry Roberson, Indianapolis, IN

01/24/10 We are upgrading this rumor to 'strong' today.  The head of a group trying to bring a street race to downtown Baltimore believes the city is well on its way to being placed on the IndyCar Racing League circuit next summer.  “I’m pretty certain it’s going to happen,” said Jay Davidson, chief operating officer of Baltimore Racing Development LLC. “I’d say we’re at 90 percent.”

Despite turmoil in city leadership — Mayor Sheila Dixon steps down next month, and the incoming administration faces a budget deficit of approximately $127 million — plans to bring the first grand prix-style race to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor are still revving up.

Incoming mayor and Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake supported the project when Davidson’s group pitched the idea to the city last summer and is still “very excited about the prospect,” her spokesman, Ryan O’Doherty, said.

Councilman William Cole IV, a proponent of the race — his district is home to much of the proposed race track — said he believes the potential in revenue for the city, estimated at $60 million to $100 million, is a top selling point.

“At end of the day the incoming mayor will have to evaluate the situation, and knowing she’s been an early supporter, and because of the economic impact, I know she’ll make the best decision,” Cole said.

According to Davidson, BRD is eyeing the first two weekends of August 2011 as potential race dates and hopes to reach a five-year agreement with the racing league. The league plans to announce next year’s circuit cities in July or August, a spokeswoman said. More at mddailyrecord.com

08/18/09 Two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Al Unser Jr. is getting behind the wheel of a plan to bring a Grand Prix-style race to the streets of Baltimore.

Video: Al Unser Jr., Jay Davidson Talk IndyCar

Unser was on hand at a news conference Monday on behalf of the Baltimore Racing Development, which announced its intention to secure a Indy Racing League event for the city in 2011.

The announcement followed the unanimous approval of a City Council resolution last week that provided BRD exclusive rights for two-years to pursue bringing an IRL Race to Baltimore.

The race is expected to have huge economic impact.

"An estimated $20 to $30 million dollars of economic impact on our region -- that's like hosting that event three days straight in our city of Baltimore," said Terry Hasseltine of the state Office of Sports Marketing.

The current plan would be to run the race by Camden Yards and the Inner Harbor, with major straight-aways on Pratt, Russell, Light and Conway streets. More at WBAL TV zzzz

07/09/09 Baltimore Racing Development has been working for about three years to bring a Grand Prix race to the streets of downtown Baltimore.

"It certainly has created quite a buzz in Baltimore. There's great interest. We expect to be able to tap into the market in New York City, Philadelphia, Northern Virginia and Washington," said BRD spokesman Jay Davidson. The race would run Friday through Sunday one weekend a year. BRD officials said they're hoping for Labor Day weekend.

Organizers said the race would bring big bucks to Baltimore, drawing as many has 150,000 people, bringing in as much as $100 million for the local economy, helping local businesses and allowing hotels to spruce up for tourists.

"These street events are really a festival more than just a race, and typically, they have concerts and go-cart racing and lots of corporate side events associated with them. So, they really do bring the right kind of folks to these events. You're talking about corporate leaders and people that spend money," Davidson said.

The racecourse would take over nearly 2.5 miles of road around the convention center, including parts of Pratt and Conway streets, but organizers stressed that the roads wouldn't be shut down for the whole weekend -- just during racing.  They're currently conducting noise and traffic studies to determine how to make it work.

"To show how we would alleviate traffic in and around the course during that Friday of the rush hour traffic. But because it is a weekend event, we're dealing with that weekend warrior that comes downtown, so there's not as much traffic to deal with over the weekend," said Terry Hasseltine of Maryland Sports Marketing. wbaltv.com

07/08/09 Here is a related Baltimore Sun article.  On another note, if Richmond were to get the axe due to a history of boring racing and dwindling attendance, Baltimore would be a perfect replacement.

Proposed Baltimore GP street circuit layout
To the right is the proposed layout for Baltimore GP IndyCar circuit, as per the published feasibility study from Baltimore Racing Development, LLC ("BRD"), for the City of Baltimore.  We see at least 4 or 5 good passing zones, which for a street circuit, is good.

07/07/09 A Baltimore group is in serious negotiations with the city and the IndyCar Series about staging an annual street race beginning in 2011 near the Inner Harbor that state and city officials say could rival the Preakness in its economic impact and national exposure.

Baltimore Racing Development, a limited liability company, is proposing five years of what it calls a "Baltimore Grand Prix" beginning in the late summer or early fall of 2011. BRD has been meeting with city and state officials - including representatives of Mayor Sheila Dixon - and with the Indy Racing League's IndyCar Series.

The race would be patterned in part after IndyCar Series street races in Toronto; St. Petersburg, Fla.; and Long Beach, Calif.

A feasibility study obtained by The Baltimore Sun says the race and related events could have an economic impact of as much as $100 million. By comparison, the Preakness is estimated to have a $60 million impact. The horse race is the state's largest annual sporting event and helps support Maryland's thoroughbred industry for the rest of the year.

"BRD projects that the [auto] event would bring more than 150,000 visitors to Baltimore and generate as much as $100 million over the four days, based on such visitors spending on hotel nights, meals, tickets and other purchases," according to the feasibility study.

BRD said Dixon asked it to provide the feasibility study. A Dixon spokesman, Ian Brennan, said no decision has been made by the mayor's office about the race.

"We have had interest from the producers of two racing events. The concept is intriguing," said Brennan, who declined to identify the other event. "Racing cars through the streets of downtown Baltimore raises numerous questions which still need to be answered."

The event would be held over four days and would likely include go-kart races, concerts and other activities, said Jay Davidson, a Baltimore attorney who is the chief operating officer of BRD. A series of preliminary races would occur before the main event on the final day.

Maryland's interest is serious enough that Terry Hasseltine, director of the state's office of sports marketing, traveled to St. Petersburg in April to observe the "Streets of St. Petersburg" race.

"The stands were packed around every corner. People were just buzzing throughout the area," Hasseltine said. "There had to be at least 110,000 on that final day."

Hasseltine said the Baltimore event could draw 40,000 to 70,000 people a day before the final race. By comparison, he said, "The Preakness is a one-day activity."

The race plans cannot be finalized until the city, BRD and IndyCar officials agree. Davidson said BRD was working on noise and traffic management studies for the city that could be completed within about a month.

Map showing streets course would traverse
Track layout when Champ Car was looking at it
"We have to have our homework done to see how noise is handled, how street closures are handled and the economics of it all. Then we have to have the right date," Hasseltine said. "We want to be the Indy 500 of the street course. They start off at the unofficial beginning of summer, and this could be the end of summer on Labor Day weekend. We are throwing out a couple different dates."

The proposed race course would send the open-wheel racing cars along parts of Pratt, Light, Conway, Camden and Russell streets. The course would veer near the Maryland Science Center and past Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

The course would be about 2.4 miles long with the pit area adjacent to Camden Yards, according to the feasibility study.

Among the consultants working to bring the race to Baltimore is two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr.

Unser, who is also a driver coach for the Indy Racing League, said the Inner Harbor would be a scenic backdrop and that the event could attract racing fans from Washington, Philadelphia and New York.

"I'd kind of like to call it [Baltimore] our East Coast Long Beach," Unser said. "Long Beach just had their 35th annual [street race]. I really feel this is going to be a long-term win-win situation." Baltimore Sun

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