Race On, Andretti Motorsports become third team to lead race efforts in Baltimore

A pair of local investors who have teamed with racing star Michael Andretti's promotions company on Wednesday became the third group to be given control of the Baltimore Grand Prix race.

The city's spending board voted to approve a contract with Race On, a company founded last month by financier J.P. Grant III and concrete contractor Greg O'Neill. Race On will work with Andretti Sports Marketing to plan all aspects of the Labor Day weekend event, which is less than four months away.

City Comptroller Joan Pratt, who had voted against the city's previous Grand Prix contract with another group in February, backed the latest agreement, citing her confidence in Grant.

"I believe this will be a success because this man has a good reputation," Pratt said. "He is a man of high moral character."

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake touted the benefits of the race for the city in terms of economic impact and publicity. She has repeatedly talked up those benefits, including when the two previous race contracts were approved.

The organizer of last year's event, Baltimore Racing Development, collapsed financially in the months following the race, leaving millions in unpaid debts. Rawlings-Blake's administration then chose Downforce Racing in February to take over the event, but that company quickly fell apart.

Race On and Andretti are slated to give a 1 p.m. news conference at the city-owned Hilton Baltimore hotel. The mayor is not expected to attend.

Grant's Columbia-based company, Grant Capital Management, has been awarded millions of dollars of city contracts over the past 12 years. O'Neill, a former race car driver, is vice president of BMW Construction of Curtis Bay, which has received millions of dollars in federal defense contracts. Baltimore Sun

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