SBD/Issue 200/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Baltimore Group In Serious Negotiations To Stage IndyCar Race

BRD Behind Idea Of IndyCar Race
In Baltimore Beginning In '11
Baltimore Racing Development LLC (BRD) is in "serious negotiations with the city and the IndyCar Series about staging an annual street race beginning in 2011 near the Inner Harbor," according to Jeff Barker of the Baltimore SUN. BRD is proposing "five years of what it calls a 'Baltimore Grand Prix' beginning in the late summer or early fall of 2011," and a feasibility study indicated that the race and related events "could have an economic impact of as much as" $100M. Baltimore and Maryland officials said that a race "could rival" the Preakness Stakes in both economic impact and national exposure. BRD COO Jay Davidson said that the event "would be held over four days and would likely include go-kart races, concerts and other activities." Barker notes the course "would be about 2.4 miles long with the pit area adjacent to Camden Yards," and the race would be "patterned in part after IndyCar Series street races" in Toronto, St. Petersburg and Long Beach. Former IndyCar driver Al Unser Jr. is "among the consultants working to bring the race to Baltimore" (Baltimore SUN, 7/7).

TALKING IT OUT: In New York, Ron Levanduski reports a "high-stakes game of poker is taking place over when and if the IndyCar Series will return" to Watkins Glen Int'l (WGI) next year following Sunday's Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen. Negotiations to return in 2010 for a possible late-September date are taking place between the IRL and ISC, though the IRL also is "negotiating with four other ISC-owned tracks that run IndyCar Series events." WGI President Michael Printup indicated that he wants to move the race from its recent date around the July 4 holiday "back to the fall where it began" in '05. But IRL VP/PR John Griffin said that a "late September date would put a strain on the teams returning" from the Indy Japan 300 at the Twin Ring Motegi in Japan. Speed TV reporter Robin Miller suggested that the date change "could just be a bluff to negotiate what may be the real sticking point -- money -- or, more specifically, the sanction fee a sanctioning body asks a track to pay to hold its event" (Elmira STAR-GAZETTE, 7/7).

Team Owners Hope George's
Departure Not Disruptive
TRANSITION PERIOD: SI.com's Bruce Martin reported IndyCar Series team owners are hoping that the ouster of Tony George as IRL CEO and IMS President & CEO "doesn't become as much a disruption to the sport as the original split" in '96. George was estimated to have spent $22M "to unify the sport" last year, and that investment "also yielded a positive buzz." But "every sport in the United States felt the burden" of the economic downturn beginning last fall, which led George's sisters -- IMS BOD members Josie, Nancy and Kathi Conforti -- to "look at how the wealth of the company had diminished over the years." George's leadership since last October was "under attack by his own sisters who wanted him removed" from his IMS role, and they "wanted to make the IndyCar Series his sole responsibility where he would no longer have the ability to funnel money from the highly-profitable Indianapolis Motor Speedway to the money-losing IndyCar Series." George is expected to make his first public statements this week, and sources said that the week of silence is "at the request of George's attorney as they work out a settlement for George's termination." But George, who co-owns Vision Racing, "did speak to fellow IndyCar team owners at an owner's meeting held late Saturday afternoon at Watkins Glen, and he assured them that he will continue to support the series as a team owner and would fully support the growth of the sport." Martin noted George prior to Sunday's race "looked like a man who had the weight of the world removed from his shoulders," as he was "relaxed, smiled, seemed comfortable in his own skin and was relieved that the heavy lifting is now up to others" (SI.com, 7/6).

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