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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

IndyCar May Return to the Eastern Seaboard With Baltimore Race

The idea of an IZOD IndyCar Series race in Baltimore, Maryland first came up seriously early last summer, just days after one of the worst races of the season took place at Richmond International Raceway. Playing to the IRL's recent embrace of street courses, the event would take place on a two-plus mile track that circled Baltimore's Inner Harbor and Camden Yards, home of baseball's Orioles.

Today, Baltimore city officials approved a favorable five-year deal that should all but guarantee the track a place on the IndyCar schedule in 2011 and beyond. Sources say the lease costs $1.25 million a year, along with $7.5 million earmarked for upgrades to the streets on which the cars will race.

Baltimore Racing Development, which was established in 2007 to try to make the Baltimore Grand Prix a reality, released its Economic Impact Report on Monday, and the numbers were more than enough to impress the city. Projections suggest $70 million of yearly revenue generated by the race, $6 million in taxes, and 400 full-time equivalent jobs generated by the event, which is expected to draw at least 100,000 spectators. The report also claims that the city of Baltimore will receive $5.5 million worth of media exposure from the event.

Among the benefits to hosting a race in Baltimore are its central location - less than two hours from Washington DC and Philadelphia by car or rail, and an hour flight away from New York and Boston. Open-wheel racing has neglected these markets as of late, with former races in Loudon, Dover, Richmond, and Nazareth off the schedule. The only race in the northeastern part of America right now is the July 4 Watkins Glen event. Heading to Baltimore will help reclaim a fanbase in this crucial area of the country.

No date has been set for the 2011 Baltimore Grand Prix.

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