IndyCar confirms Grand Prix's Labor Day weekend return

Tickets expected to go on sale in 2-3 weeks

October 14, 2011|By Sandra McKee, The Baltimore Sun

IndyCar officials confirmed Friday that the Baltimore Grand Prix will return Labor Day weekend, but they will hold off on releasing the series' complete schedule until after Sunday's season finale in Las Vegas.

"Baltimore was a big win this season for a business like ours," said Terry Angstadt, president of the IndyCar Series commercial division. "The entire city was behind it, from the mayor's office to the fans. The grandstands were full with happy, engaged people. When that happens, we're winners."

The 2012 Grand Prix weekend will look much like the inaugural event. The Indy cars will run Sunday, Sept. 2, the American Le Mans sports car series will race the previous day, and the three Road to Indy support series races — the USF2000, Star Mazda and Firestone Indy Lights — are also expected to be included in the weekend.

Race promoter Jay Davidson — who said Tuesday that the event was coming back — said Friday that tickets will go on sale within the next two or three weeks. Fans who purchased tickets to this year's event will have an opportunity to purchase ticket's for next year a week before they go on sale to the general public, he said.

Angstadt said "I don't think there was any debate" about the race returning on Labor Day weekend.

"It fit on our schedule and it fit the mayor's concept of giving people a reason to come downtown over the holiday weekend, when so many leave town," Angstadt said, referring to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who championed the event as a way to help businesses on the holiday weekend that is usually slow for commercial enterprise. "Some sports try to avoid holiday weekends, but we never have. The Indianapolis 500 is on Memorial Day. That day and Labor Day are big family days, and if families are together and want to come to the races, so much the better."

Tweaks to the event are being considered. Chief among them is is securing a primary sponsor.

IZOD IndyCar officials tried to help Davidson acquire a name sponsor for the inaugural race, but they could not find one. Angstadt said he thinks the economy caused some prospective sponsors to take a wait-and-see approach.

"I think it was very much like the first year we had the Barber Motorsports Park on the schedule," Angstadt said of the track in Birmingham, Ala. "They couldn't find a name sponsor the first year, but the race was very successful and in the second year it was the Honda Grand Prix. We're very hopeful companies watching this year's Baltimore race saw the big crowds and excitement and will want to be part of it. We're hopeful someone will step up into that position."

The league is also considering removing the chicane, the man-made series of quick turns that slowed cars before the train tracks on Pratt Street.

"We engineered it to slow the drivers down before the tracks, but the drivers have told us they don't need the chicane to handle the train tracks," Angstadt said. "It's what racecar drivers want to do, go fast. So we're looking into changing that."

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