Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

September 6, 2011

Baltimore Indy Car Recap: A Huge Success or Just Typical Hype?

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 5:02 pm

A new labor day tradition may have been born along the inner harbor of the city of Baltimore. The Indy Cars rapidly paraded around several walled off city streets, drawing almost a Texas-sized crowd downtown to the bars and restaurants ready to accept their money.

Anyone anywhere near a microphone predictably expressed glee that sounded beyond orgasmic every single time. Indy Car officials and participants were effusive with praise. City officials and politicians strutted about like proud roosters. The good old days of inflated ‘three day’ attendance estimates made a grand return with number that ranged from 150K to almost 300K. Yeah, right.

No one doubts the good time had by most. The calendar was full of racing and the diversions offered by the site location meant there was something for everyone. But let’s face facts for once. On Friday about 10,000 paid to get in. Saturday drew about 25,000 paid. Reliable estimates put the number of grandstand seats at between 20,000 and 30,000. If we split the difference and call it 25K and agree they were sold out, that would mean almost 100,000 got in via general admission. Come on. No one is that gullible. That said, the GA crowd was big, and 50,000 to 60,000 paid admissions is not a stretch on race day.

The torch toting Brian Barnhart witch hunters incorporated more ammo…someone in the safety crew screwed up a restart and found a truck running against speedy race traffic after a green. Ooops. Predictably, it’s all Brian Barnhart’s fault and cries for his head among the handful of haters is at a fever pitch.

The problem I have is that a crowd of 60,000 is considered great at an abomination of a circuit, but in the event Indy Car promoted, say, Kentucky as enthusiastically as they did Baltimore (not likely in our lifetime) 50,000 or 60,000 would be considered bad, mostly because there are twice that many seats. That is shortsighted, stupid and one of the most cheesy rationalizations in the sport. If these goddamned street circuits are as popular as Indy Car has wished itself into believing they are, why doesn’t NASCAR run any?

I will be anxious to see what happens with Baltimore once they clean up the mess and count the money they made then compare that to the money they spent. Typically these types of events do not make it three years. We’ll see.

The Indy Car enthusiast in me is quite happy the brand got great mid-Atlantic exposure in a desirable market and lots of people showed up. The cynical side of me hopes the jumping up and down happiness that has afflicted the Indy Car folks is not like a crack high that will leave them with long term impairment.



  1. That safety truck snafu was at the outside edge of Turn 1 at the start of the race. If Power punts Rahal, I shudder to think of the consequences. With a last-second tire barrier adjustment, you would have thought Race Control would have known some trucks were getting into position. Guess not.

    Comment by A fan — September 6, 2011 @ 6:10 pm | Reply

  2. The Holmatro truck incident notwithstanding, Race [out of] Control took its sweet time and was not consistent sorting out the “parking lot” that occurred after Briscoe and Hunter Reay renewed acquaintences. I am all for some sanity regarding the rules, but how about we re-wtite them to take away a bit of the “discretion of Race Control.” When I am watching a race with NASCAR guys and THEY’RE wondering what’s happening, it is embarrassing.

    Comment by SkipinSC — September 6, 2011 @ 9:17 pm | Reply

  3. Dear Defender:

    While we continue to spar back and forth about who remains responsible for the slow death of American Open Wheel Racing since 1995 (you beat the ‘died twice’ drum to bury CART/Champ Car’s dismal leadership while I prefer to blame TG and his incompetence and hubris), perhaps it’s time for us to fear Indy Car dying but one time….in the very near future. The tragic comedy of errors that is the Izod Indy Car Series continues to rear its ugly head as we face crisis after crisis while other forms of motorsports and our friends in the stick and ball world thrive or at least keep their heads above water. Whether we gripe about the lack of attendance at any oval except for Indy and Iowa to the boring parades hosted on road courses like Sonoma or Mid Ohio to the seemingly well attended street festivals which lack any chance of passing action, the bottom line remains that this series is in sore need of real leadership and neither Ropin’ Randy or a return to the reign of TG will meet the challenges that face this series in disarray. Despite the enthusiasm and hope that we held out for the new regime, the season is not even over yet and we are licking our wounds caused by the fiasco at Texas, the disappointment of having a single chassis produced by the same manufacturer who has raped the teams for spare parts for 10 years, the fallacy of having top flight racers potentially compete in the finale in Vegas, an inept and unfair system of officiating which has concentrated power in the hands of an idiot who should be tending to IMS’ landscaping, an impending engine supply crisis which may deprive half the field from leasing power next season and the loss of the series most visible driver bolting for NASCAR… apart from a fine finish at Indy, we have the same stale battle between Penske and Gansassi….is there any bright side for the future as I am quickly losing interest and passion for a series that I have followed devoutly for the last 30 years?

    Comment by Neil Rubin — September 7, 2011 @ 5:41 pm | Reply

    • What fiasco at Texas are you referring to? It was not the greatest race(s) ever there but also wasn’t horrible. Still concerned about spare parts of the past 10 years-been taken care of for now. One chasis, but new. Impending engine supply crisis? – 2 companies have already locked up approx 20 cars and a 3rd is possible, although I’m not holding my breath about Lotus. I have hated the officiating this year as well, but that can and will be addressed I’m sure. Lots of things to be unhappy about, but plenty to be happy about if you are as you say a devout fan for over 30 years. Im right there with ya as a 42 year old who grew up in Speedway, IN and can’t remember not following the sport – so 35 -37 years now for me. It’s tough, but if you hate it that much then go away. Find something else that doesn’t make you so miserable. I love all the passionate long time fans who actually hate the sport. I know most of us want this to get back to where it once was, but that may be in a dream world so be a fan of what it is or be a fan of something else. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sport where so many die hard fans that “love” the sport, actually hate it so much. It’s kinda weird. I’m there to some extent, but not nearly at level of some. I think of it this way – Do I want there to be no IICS or Indy 500 and the answer is a resounding NO.

      Comment by Mark — September 10, 2011 @ 8:39 am | Reply

  4. I watched the last 15 laps of the Nascar race in Atlanta. The battle between Jeff
    Gordon and Jimmy Johnson was one of the best finishes in some time. Magnificent racing.
    Reminded me
    of the finish at Kentucky a couple years ago and Indy in 1992 in INdycar. Sadly there is no
    chance of that in Indy Car when they are driving the street/road circuits. Indycar had better wake up. Their cars may be faster than those in Nascar, but running street courses means that they waste their extra speed. Lets be honest, racing has been nonexistent on these street/road courses. If it is auto racing we are selling here, we are going to go out oof business.

    Comment by Bob F. — September 7, 2011 @ 5:58 pm | Reply

  5. I have got to cut the safety crew a break here, a new layout no one has ever raced on and tricky at that.

    Street events like these are shots in the dark. If you are lucky, you will find the next Long Beach or St. Pete. (I don’t count Brasil because a good part of that course is not on the street and it is a slam dunk for attendance). Only time will tell on this lastest one, but as it stands now, it was a huge boost for the series and I hope for the city of Baltimore.

    Comment by Mike Miller — September 7, 2011 @ 6:43 pm | Reply

  6. You do realize that INDYCAR, with the exception of Vegas leaves the promoting to the… promoters, right? I’m sure the Baltimore promoters are working just as hard as the promoters at your precious ovals. One can make things work, the other can’t. I love watching oval racing but they’ve got to figure out how to make those events profitable or they’ll be gone.

    NASCAR doesn’t run street parades because NASCAR is an primarily oval series. Whats tough to understand about that? It works for them financially. Not the case for Indycar, recently.

    Don’t blame Indycar for the failures of Oval Indycar races.

    Comment by Vinnie — September 13, 2011 @ 7:19 pm | Reply

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