Eric Bachelart sold a Conquest seat to a Belgian driver this week…24 year old guy named Bertrand Baguette. If nothing else that is a darned cool name, just like fellow Belgian Wym Eyckmans before him. This latest in a long succession of non-Americans behind Indy Car steering wheels has some solid credentials, winning the 2009 World Series by Renault, and had some serious sniffing being done by Formula 1 teams. He starts at Barber and will be in St. Pete to take a close look this weekend at the second of the three God forsaken street circuits that pollute the early IZOD Indy Car schedule before the first of an ever-dwindling number of ovals. At least St. Pete has a bumpy runway and relatively pretty scenery.
Speaking of pointless gypsy street festivals with fast parades that nearly always eventually alienate cities, the citizens of Baltimore and fans of actual racing across the country are about to get another one unceremoniously shoved up their keisters as early as next season. They will fly helicopters over the streets where they want the ‘track’ to be so they can ‘survey’ it this weekend.
Hey Baltimore…if you want an event that might actually last for more than a couple of years before everyone in town gets torch-carrying angry about the colossal amount of money you will end up throwing away for hype that is mainly just hot air, why not bulldoze some of the numerous blighted areas in or close to downtown and build a REAL race track? There are parts of downtown Baltimore that are WAY worse than, say, the 30th St. side of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It would cost you less in the long run and if you did it correctly you could have Indy Car, NASCAR and any number of other quality series on your schedule. If that does not work, Dover is nearby. If people in Baltimore did not show up when Indy Cars ran there, why would they show up now?
Your hotels won’t be sold out, the hundreds of millions you expect in economic impact is a cart-style wet dream, and what you will have by Sunday night are pissed off citizens who could not get from point A to point B for over a week, litter strewn streets downtown, puke covered sidewalks and a massive clean-up effort that will cost big bucks. Build a real track. Streets are not race tracks.