Race Cars Come To Baltimore Months Before Return Of Grand Prix

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Grand Prix may be months from taking over Baltimore.

But as Christie Ileto reports race cars are already speeding down city streets.

Grand Prix of Baltimore organizers hope unveiling a new car will help smooth out a history of business bumps.

“A lot of horsepower. It will go plenty fast,” said driver Tony Kanaan.

A crowd of people watched driver Simona De Silvestro take the livery for a spin Wednesday.

“Baltimore has always been really good to me,” De Silvestro said.

Event organizers want to keep it that way.

“The goal is to do better than we did last year,” said Gregory O’Neil, Race On.

Drivers and spectators rave about the downtown race course but last year, the event only drew 131,000 people and generated $25 million for the city. That’s 30,000 fewer people and $5 million less than its first year.

“I can’t speak specifically to what ticket sales are doing but I can tell you’re they’re trending well,” said O’Neil.

Grand Prix’s first year organizers failed to meet financial obligations. The following year event leadership changed hands to the group Race On.

“It was a very difficult undertaking. We were successful with the event,” said O’Neil. “Now we just have to draw the fan base.”

To make sure even more people flood Baltimore streets for this year’s race, event organizers started working the day after last year’s race ended.

“There was no break. Right back to work,” said O’Neil.

Driver Tony Kanaan hopes to see a packed house.

“We want it to be sold out,” said Kanaan.

Event organizers hope this will be even stronger than years before.

It may seem like a long way off but tickets for this year’s event went on sale last month.

This is the third time the Grand Prix will come to Baltimore and it will again be held on Labor Day weekend.

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