Baltimore Grand Prix (Part 3): The Event, the Race Cars, the Races

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As we discussed in previous posts, the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix was held in the heart of downtown Baltimore, MD. For racing fans and car fans alike, this was a unique event for the East Coast and crowds were enthralled by the gathering of race cars that seemed out of place on the streets of a major U.S. city. After all, how often does one see and HEAR cars flying down city streets doing triple-digit speeds, the exhausts echoing and bellowing throughout an entire city! Not very often, eh?

Baltimore Grand Prix Circuit

Featuring a 2.04 mile street circuit near Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, the Baltimore Grand Prix was a 3-day extravaganza of cars, cars, and more cars. Staged over the Labor Day weekend, things ramped up right away on Day 1 (Friday), with the practice/qualifying sessions. Filling the 32,000+ grandstand seats were fans of all types, from the serious race aficionados to the casual, first-time observers. The race cars were a mixture of those from the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), the Indy Lights series, and the granddaddy IndyCar series (featuring such stars as Tony Kanaan, Helio Castroneves, Dario Franchitti, Danica Patrick, Will Power, et al.).

The atmosphere was electric from Day 1 and here’s a sample of some of the action in the middle of the city:

On Day 2 (Saturday), the American Le Mans Series race brought huge crowds, and it was fun to watch the action from the grandstands, the TVs in the club tents, and even from the sidewalks/venues lining the streets. In our opinion, we felt that the best-sounding cars were the ALMS BMW E92 M3s and the Ferrari 458s, but we’ll let you decide on your favorites:

Day 3 (Sunday) was capped by the marquee event, the IZOD IndyCar Series race, featuring the ultimately-fast IndyCars. We can say that these cars are a blur when they go by and the sounds they make are astounding! Here’s some footage from the race. The video includes mid-race and end-race footage on the straightaway between Turns 9 and 10 (Russell Street). The race was won by Will Power in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car…starting around the 1:48 mark, the video captures Will Power’s car on the final lap as he heads to victory:

Challenge Question #1: Can you identify the color combination of Will Power’s winning IndyCar?

Challenge Question #2: Who is driving the lime green colored car?

In summary, while there were some glitches that need to be improved for next year (parking, security, crowd management), the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix was an overall success and seemed to attract rave reviews from the drivers, media, and racing community. With its 5-year contract in place, hopefully, it can only get even better.

You can view more pictures here: 2011 Baltimore Grand Prix

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