Reporting Meghan McCorkell
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Just two weeks after IndyCar racing zoomed into Baltimore, a road block may end the Grand Prix permanently.
Meghan McCorkell has more on the decision and its impact.
With major events already booked in Baltimore for the next two years, race officials say they simply could not find dates that worked.
The roar of Indy cars will soon be silenced in Baltimore. Officials announce the Grand Prix is canceled for 2014 and 2015.
“We spent the last few months working with Le Mans, Indy, the Orioles, Ravens, the Convention Center and the city to come up with a date, and we haven’t been successful,” said J.P. Grant, Race On.
A two-year pit stop puts the brakes on any future races. Two weeks ago, organizers were racing ahead.
“I’m sure we’re going to do it. It’s not a problem,” Grand Prix general manager Tim Mayer said Aug. 30.
This year’s Grand Prix drew 152,000 spectators.
“Millions around the world were exposed to a positive image of our city, including our beautiful harbor and the skyline, our stadiums,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
Officials say the race drove $130 million in business into Baltimore over three years.
“Every time the race was over, people would come over en mass. We hosted some functions, some events for some of the drivers,” said Ed Prutzer, The Rusty Scupper.
At The Rusty Scupper, the Grand Prix helped get crowds in the door. But other businesses, like restaurants in Little Italy, say the Grand Prix dealt a blow to their bottom line.
“It hasn’t done much for us,” said Scott Panian, owner of Amicci’s.
Many tables were left empty with customers scared of traffic tie-ups. Panian says he’s happy to see the Grand Prix go.
“We’ve been in business 23 years and they were the three worst Labor Day weekends we ever had,” he said.
Now it appears the last checkered flag may have flown in Baltimore.
“After a successful visit to Baltimore, which included record attendance, we are disappointed that our schedules will not align to host an event in 2014,” said Mark Miles, chief executive officer, Hulman & Co., the parent company of IndyCar. “This was simply a matter of trying to find the best date that worked for all parties, since Labor Day weekend was not an option in 2014. We are thankful to the city of Baltimore, Race On and Andretti Sports Marketing for their support and enthusiasm for the event over the years.”
“We continue to finalize our 2014 schedule and anticipate announcing it prior to the end of our 2013 season,” Miles added.
The race could potentially come back in 2016. But officials with Race On say they will not be involved.
The mayor tells WJZ’s media partner, The Baltimore Sun, there are no discussions about bringing the race back.