Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

October 27, 2010

IZOD Indy Car Series Prepares for Baltimore, But Street Events Remain Bad Racing Choices

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 3:28 pm

There is a thorough, well written story by a lady named Julie Scharper of The Baltimore Sun that was published a couple of days ago about the upcoming Baltimore street race. Here are some of the key points made in the story:

-There is no title sponsor

-There are railroad tracks, and no one has figured out how to avoid a General Lee type situation akin to the way the ill-fated champcar series embarrassed itself at the one and done street abomination in San Jose.

-The population in Baltimore seemingly does not give a rip about having the Indy Cars in town on their streets.

The event does have millions of tax dollars for improvements from the lukewarm taxpayers, but the infrastructure has to be funded and right now it’s not. Robin Miller is quoted heavily, and given his sense of negativity and pessimism in general, the ominous tone of the article is enhanced by his contributions.

The race folks hope to sell $7 million of tickets. That seems high to me.

Here is my prediction, based on past performances: Lots of people will attend the first year because of the novelty. In subsequent years, not a lot of people will attend because the hype is better than the reality. The cars are not as impressive as they are on ovals. Spectators can’t see much of the course. It will be a hassle to get there and get around.

We are likely to end up with a Denver situation that fails after two years. That is the way it goes for street events. Not everything can be a Long Beach. Geographically Baltimore/Washington is an ideal market for Indy Cars. It is a shame someone won’t build a real track for them to race on.

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8 Comments »

  1. Denver, Houston, San Jose, Surfer’s Paradise, Tamiami Park, The Meadowlands, Las Vegas at Caesar’s Palace–the beat goes on…….

    Comment by DOUG — October 27, 2010 @ 3:44 pm | Reply

    • Walt Disney World, Atlanta, Charlotte, Fontana, Phoenix, Nashville, Gateway, Pikes Peak, Michigan, Richmond, Chicagoland, Kansas, Homestead …. yep, the beat sure does.

      As a former resident of Baltimore, I know the Inner Harbor area well. I know the area where they’re planning on putting the track. If I still lived in the Charm City, I’d be walking over to watch the entire race weekend. That being said, when they announced the race (and the track location), my first two thoughts were:
      1) Cool! An IndyCar race! Now I won’t be bummed about losing Richmond
      2) An IndyCar race? In the INNNER HARBOR? WTF? Who’s the rocket scientist who came up with THAT?

      I agree with you. Baltimore is likely to join the list of ‘seemed like a good idea at the time’ street circuit races, probably sooner rather than later. I do, however, disagree with you on one point. Your throwaway ‘It’s a shame someone won’t build a real track for them to race on.’. Honestly, why would they? Using the as-of-yet unbuilt Canadian Motor Speedway as a model, why would anyone spend $150 million to build a real (I assume you mean oval) track? Like it or not, IndyCar doesn’t draw the fans to be the prime client for a new track, Nationwide and Camping World trucks don’t put butts in the seats, and NASCAR isn’t in the habit of handing out Cup dates for new tracks.

      You seem to suggest that there should be a ‘build it and they will come’ philosophy. Sorry, but that ship sailed for IICS. Look at the tracks that are no longer part of the series. You can say its because of poor marketing, poor scheduling, poor promotion…but the bottom line is that those tracks are gone primarily because of poor attendance. And in fairness, its not just IICS thats taking the attendance hit; NASCAR and their feeder series are taking a beating as well. That being said, until fans in all racing series start going back to the tracks, I think its highly unlikely that anyone will be building new tracks in the near future, especially not for IICS. It’ll have to be a ‘come, and we might think about building it’, rather than the other way around.

      Comment by Steve Kornya — October 27, 2010 @ 9:54 pm | Reply

  2. As municipal funding dries up, so too (I hope) will the street courses.

    Long Beach is unique. The citizens of the city of angels attend sporting events to be at the event. Most could care less about the actual event itself. In baseball, they leave in the 7th inning regardless of how the game is going. They can’t support an NFL team. And I would guess 90% of the “fans” who attended the Long Beach “race” never even knew who won.

    Comment by Bob F. — October 27, 2010 @ 7:19 pm | Reply

    • So what if the fans at the LBGP don’t know who won the race? They’ve supported the race for more than three decades; its the second longest continually running Open Wheel Race behind Indy. They buy the tickets, they show up, end of debate.

      What would you rather have, 65,000 fans who buy tickets to a race they really don’t care about, but go anyways, because its the scene to be at? Or races like Miami and Chicago, where 65000 fans come disguised as empty seats?

      Sorry, but I’d hope like hell the municipal funding DOESN’T dry up. Because if it does, its gonna be a really short season.

      Comment by Steve Kornya — October 27, 2010 @ 10:12 pm | Reply

  3. Don’t forget, Denver failed TWICE.

    $7 Million dollars divided by a $65 ticket price would mean a three day total of 107.7K fans in the stands, which sounds doable until you break down the numbers.
    10K the first day, 30K the second day and 68K on race day. I don’t think they will get 68,000 on race day, that’s only 3,000 less than it takes to completely fill the Raven’s stadium. And I agree that interest will drop off rapidly. The last race in Denver, which is the same size as Baltimore, had only enough bleachers to hold 18,000 people.

    Comment by Chris Lukens — October 27, 2010 @ 8:15 pm | Reply

  4. ChampCar raced at San Jose three times.

    Comment by The Speedgeek — October 27, 2010 @ 8:47 pm | Reply

  5. it’s worth a shot.

    Comment by redd — October 27, 2010 @ 8:55 pm | Reply

  6. Track doesn’t look very promising… but I’m pretty sure the city will pay for it the first two years… and I’m sure they’ll find some sort of sponsorship… sadly… that track really does look awful. Attendance wise, since it’s truly in downtown, they should get a lot. Hopefully it disappears quickly… but i have a feeling it’ll become like Motegi and Mid Ohio and Infineon, a boring track we’re never able to shake off.

    Comment by dylanpt24 — October 28, 2010 @ 12:20 am | Reply


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