Turmoil puts 2012 Baltimore Grand Prix in jeopardy

IndyCar CEO says event will happen

Organizers are running out of time to try and save the Baltimore Grand Prix.

More than 100,000 people packed the streets of Downtown Baltimore for the inaugural event last year; but financially -- it turned out to be a bust.

A new group called "Downforce Racing" formed back in February, replacing "Baltimore Racing Development," which organized last year's race.  The new group includes Baltimore businessmen Dan Reck and Felix Dawson, along with Dale Dillon, a contractor from Indianapolis with a long history in IndyCar racing.

"To be a part of this and have this available to us, we're truly excited," Dillon said during a news conference on Feb. 15.  "Dan, Felix and I couldn't think of a better opportunity and a better place to put on an IndyCar race, and truly look forward to what we can provide both IndyCar and the city and the fans."

That was then, but as of right now a web site put together by the group is completely inactive -- not selling tickets for this year's Baltimore Grand Prix.  It's scheduled for Labor Day weekend, just over four months away.

Now the Downforce Racing partnership itself might be in trouble; with Dale Dillon potentially leaving the group.  The head of IndyCar, Randy Bernard, responded to that in an interview Monday with Autoweek magazine.

"Our deal is with Downforce," he said.  "And I think they have told us that they would welcome Dale.  But if Dale doesn't want to be part of it, that's fine as well."

City Councilman William Cole said the support of IndyCar, and the American Le Mans series is more important than the make-up of the local group.

"As long as the two race organizations maintain that they want to be here I think it's at least worth considering," he said.  "I think there's a 50 percent chance they can pull it off.  But that window closes every day."

Cole says talk of canceling this year's race is premature, but getting closer.

"It's safe to say that we're getting to a point in time where it's going to be very difficult for the event to be successful, but we're not there yet," he said.

In the Autoweek interview the Bernard said he's confident the race will happen:

"We're bringing a major eventto that city, he said.  "And bringing a lot of revenue to that city. It will be a great event, showcasing IndyCar and Baltimore.  It's our priority to help them make sure it happens again."

Unlike last year, the roads that make up the course are ready for another race; the set-up isn't as complicated and won't take as long.

But Councilman Cole said the group that organized last year's race was already selling tickets at this time; so the new group is behind schedule -- Cole is estimating that Downforce Racing only has a couple weeks left put its affairs in order and begin selling tickets and sponsorships.

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