The Preakness Stakes is a massive horse racing event that attracts thousands of visitors to Baltimore each year and has an economic impact of approximately $60 million on the state. Baltimore Racing Development has been looking at a variety of ways to increase that economic impact and has raised the suggestion of hosting an IndyCar Series in Baltimore in 2011. The research and investigation done by Baltimore Racing Development has shown that hosting such a large event in the state can have a positive outcome for the city and state wide economy.
The proposed event has already been given the name of the Baltimore Grand Prix, and negotiations and meetings have been held with representatives of the mayors’ office, as well as officials from the IndyCar Series, state officials and city officials. If Baltimore Racing Development succeeds with their proposal, the Baltimore Grand Prix will be fashioned in the same form as the IndyCar Series events that take the streets by storm in Long Beach California and in Toronto. And feasibility studies have been carried out to back up the claims by Baltimore Racing Development, that the Baltimore Grand Prix will generate more income than the Preakness Stakes.
According to the studies done, the Baltimore Grand Prix will bring an estimated hundred and fifty thousand visitors to Baltimore for the four days of the event. Based on these numbers, it can be calculated that approximately $100 million could be generated, taking in regard accommodation, ticket sales, meals and other purchases that are made by visitors. Those who have seen the course layout for Inner Harbor, looked over the studies and heard the positive arguments made by Baltimore Racing Development, have issued positive responses, but are still awaiting the noise level and traffic study results which are still being determined. There is a lot work that lies ahead of Baltimore Racing Developers and their supporters, but first, the officials of the various organizations will have to agree. If the green light is given on the Baltimore Grand Prix, it could soon bring fun, excitement and non-stop racing action to the streets of Baltimore.
It’s already been a gruelling season but things are looking up for Dario Franchitti after his win at the Iowa 250 this past weekend. The triumph marks his second victory so far this season and gives Franchitti an edge over many fellow competitors.
Dario Franchitti’s winning streak started earlier this year in April at Long Beach where he walked away with the winner’s trophy for the ninth time in his career. But it seems things weren’t about to end there for Franchitti – just this weekend he managed to take home another trophy at the Iowa Corn Indy 250. The achievement also marks his second victory at the Iowa Speedway.
However the win wasn’t easy. With the race barely underway, a number of accidents and cautions brought the race to an almost unbearably slow pace. By halfway as many as seven cars had been eliminated from the running – knocked out by other drivers who were also no doubt doing their best to stay on course. One of those eliminated was Tony Kanaan who had been leading the pack for the first 48 laps. With Kanaan out of the way it was easy for Briscoe to move into first place and continue leading the pack for 85 laps. However Franchitti slowly made his way to the head of the pack, eventually overtaking Briscoe with just 50 laps to go and forcing Briscoe to finish second for the third time in a row. The two were followed over the finish line by Hideki Mutoh and Dan Wheldon respectively. Hardly anyone could have expected pole-sitter Helio Castroneves to finish only seventh.
After Sunday’s race Franchitti now has ten career wins under his belt and no doubt he has set his cap on getting more. Fans will be watching closely for the rest of the season to see if he can race well enough to gain any more victories before the season ends. However, opposition will be fierce if this race was anything to go by, since spectators were treated to some of the best competition the IndyCar Series has seen so far this season.
The economic situation all over the world has been felt in many industries and sports in the last few months. Concerns over the IndyCar Series has been on the minds of most members of the auto racing industry, but on Sunday, a capacity crowd and the spectacular victory of Helio Castroneves during the Indy 500, set the Indianapolis Motor Speedway alight with emotion, excitement and overwhelming joy. It was a magnificent racing event that gave spectators all the racing drama, disappointment and elation that is expected from the Indy 500.
Many refer to the Indy 500 as the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, and it was most certainly true of this year’s event. The grandstands were packed with approximately two hundred thousand spectators, and the almost one hundred thousand that could not find space on the stands, decorated the infield in color and vibrant energy. Spectators sat stuck in traffic for hours, to find a parking and a good seat to watch all their racing heroes in action. After seeing ticket sales dwindle and a slump in spectators, the turnout on Sunday, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, proved that the IndyCar Series was gaining momentum again.
Castroneves delivered a magnificent performance, biding his time until near the end, where he took the lead and won the Indy 500 for the third consecutive year. His win awarded Team Penske with $3 million in prize money, with second place driver Dan Wheldon taking $1.6 million, Danica Patrick in third took home $763 305 and Townsend Bell in fourth, received $445 305. Danika Patrick has been performing extremely well, and is well supported by female racing enthusiasts who are elated to see a woman driver succeed on a closed circuit course. In Victory Lane, Castroneves was overwhelmed by emotion over his victory and the fact that his entire family had come out to support him. After being acquitted from federal tax charges, the victory at the Indy 500 most certainly brought joy to Castroneves and a close to the stressful time he had endured. There is no doubt that his fans will be anxious to see Castroneves in action again, and waiting for the next big victory.
It may not be the first season of unified racing for the IndyCar Series, but teams returning to this year’s events will likely feel that it is. Last year the unification decision was announced in February, just days before pre-season testing commenced. Drivers were ill-prepared for the changes and many suffered for this during the course of the season. This year they can kick off their season truly prepared for it.
Things started out a bit rough-and-tumble for the 2008 IndyCar racing season after some major changes were made a little too close to the first open test. The February Open Test in Homestead, Miami, was missed and a separate Open Test was held in Sebring, Florida. Teams had to spend at least half the season preparing back-up cars just to make it through with some hope of success. Fortunately the drivers were eventually able to catch up, and by the end of the season there were two rookie breakthrough wins by Justin Wilson and Graham Rahal.
Now the 2009 IndyCar series unified racing season is ready to begin as cars get ready to return to the track from February 24-25 for the Open Test. Stating his expectations for the year, Vitor Meira, who has been racing the series for seven years and will be moving to AJ. Foyt Racing for the season, said: “It’s definitely going to be tougher. With the off-season that we have, the new teams have had a lot of time to think, a lot of time to correct their mistakes. Since their learning curve is higher than ours, they’re going to be able to start in better shape than last year.”
Apart from the Open Test announcement, teams will also be racing two new street courses in Long Beach California and Toronto. Drivers seem to be excited about being given the chance to race where people like Mario and Michael Andretti, Helio Castroneves and Dario Franchitti have raced and won before. Will Power remarked that “Unification was the best thing that could’ve happened for open-wheel racing in North America”, due to the fact that “it’s created a lot more interest in the sport.” He couldn’t be more right and no doubt the 2009 IndyCar Series will be a massive success.
The Indy Racing League, or IRL, is a sanctioning body for open-wheel auto racing in America. Best known for the popular Indianapolis 500, the IRL endorses the IZOD IndyCar Series, Firestone Indy Lights and, as of 2010, the U.S. F2000 National Championship.
Tony George was responsible for the establishment of the IRL back in 1994, with racing beginning in 1996. George’s goal was to found a lower-cost alternative to CART, which was only accessible to wealthy teams who could afford the expensive technology. As of 2008 Champ Car racing (previously CART) was merged into the IRL.
IndyCar vehicles look similar to open-wheeled formula racing cars, featuring wings and large airboxes. The cars have strict specifications, with all cars using the same parts. Every three years, the chassis and engine manufacturers are reviewed. Originally built just for oval racing, the new generation of IndyCar machines are made to deal with road racing too.
The Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, or Indy 500, takes place each Memorial Day weekend at America’s Indianapolis Motor Speedway. One of the oldest motorsport races, the Indy 500 draws large crowds each year. It is an event avid racing fans would not want to miss. Winners of the Indianapolis 500 have included Dario Franchitti, Emerson Fittipaldi, Rick Mears, Helio Castroneves, Dan Wheldon, Juan Pablo Montoya, Sam Hornish, Jr. Scott Dixon, and others.