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THE INAUGURAL 2011 BALTIMORE GRAND PRIX

INTRODUCTION

DAY 1 FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 2011

INDYCAR PADDOCK RACE CAR PREPARATIONS
STAR MAZDA SERIES PRACTICE SESSION
AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES PRACTICE SESSION
INDYCAR PRACTICE SESSION

DAY 2 SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2011

INDYCAR QUALIFYING
INDYCARS RETURN TO PADDOCK
USF2000 SERIES RACE
AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES RACE

DAY 3 SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2011

INDYCAR PADDOCK RACE DAY PREPARATIONS
INDY LIGHTS RACE
INDYCAR RACE

(Click photos to enlarge)

           
        IndyCar paddock race day preparations - Mike Conway car
IndyCar race day prep in paddock:
#27 Mike Conway car awaiting a few more parts
IndyCar race day prep in paddock - Danica Patrick car
IndyCar race day prep in paddock:
#7 Danica Patrick car built and ready to Go Daddy
IndyCar race day prep in paddock - Georgio Pantano car
IndyCar race day prep in paddock:
#22 Giorgio Pantano car
IndyCar race day prep in paddock - E. J. Viso car

IndyCar race day prep in paddock:
#59 E. J. Viso car under assembly
IndyCar race day prep in paddock - Tony Kanaan backup car
IndyCar race day prep in paddock:
#82 Tony Kanaan backup car under construction
IndyCar race day prep in paddock - Tony Kanaan backup car being assembled

IndyCar race day prep in paddock:
#82 Tony Kanaan backup car under construction
IndyCar race day prep in paddock - Simona De Silvestro car
IndyCar race day prep in paddock:
#78 Simona De Silvestro car
INDYCAR PADDOCK RACE DAY PREPARATIONS

Sunday, September 4, 2011, had finally arrived the day of the Indy Lights race and the main event, the IndyCar race itself and the weather looked like it was going to cooperate nicely. No possibility of rain, partly sunny skies, and as is typical of late summer in Baltimore, hot and humid, with a high temperature expected to be about 90 degrees. Overall, though, not nearly as hot as it could have been had the Baltimore Grand Prix occurred when its original tentative date was announced, to occur during the first weekend in August. Having had the event moved to the Labor Day weekend was not only good in terms of the weather, but also helped to bring many more thousands of race fans to Baltimore who might not otherwise have been able to make it.

Not being a morning person myself, I decided not to venture downtown early enough to catch the IndyCar final warmup session that was scheduled to begin at 8:35 a.m., and before leaving my apartment did not bother to check into any late breaking news from the scene. So when I arrived downtown and made it through the entrance queue which was nearly half a block long by 11:00 a.m., I was completely unaware of what had happened during that early morning warmup session.

Two of my favorite IndyCar drivers Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan were involved in the single scariest on-track incident of the entire weekend. With Castroneves in front and Kanaan following him, both cars were barreling down the Pratt Street straightaway approaching Turn 1. The car driven by Castroneves braked at the end of the straight in preparation of the 120-degree turn, but Kanaan's car suddenly lost its brakes, and his left front tire made contact with the right rear tire on the Castroneves car, launching Kanaan's car airborne over Castroneves and into the runoff area at the end of the Pratt Street straightaway and through the tire barriers located there.

Castroneves was able to maintain control of his car and pulled to a stop in the runoff area, where he got out and ran to see how his good friend Tony Kanaan was. Fortunately neither driver was injured, although Tony Kanaan admitted to being a little sore afterwards. Both cars were damaged to the point where each would have to start the race in their backup machines, and since Kanaan was ruled to be at fault for the incident, he would be forced to start the race from the rear of the field. I did not even learn about the incident until after returning home later in the evening, although I was curious about the frenzied level of activity in the KV Racing Technologies paddock around Tony Kanaan's car when I stopped by.

I knew that the IndyCar paddock in the Baltimore Convention Center was likely to be a beehive of activity as the race teams made their final preparations, so that was my first planned destination prior to the start of the Indy Lights race scheduled for 12:15 p.m. Upon entering the paddock area, it seemed as though everyone else had the same idea because the cavernous space was wall-to-wall with race fans, watching the teams work on the cars, and hoping to see their favorite drivers.

Not surprisingly, the biggest crowd was around the Andretti Autosport paddock area for Danica Patrick's Go Daddy sponsored car, where the fans were stacked ten or more deep at the perimeter. Danica was there, although there were so many people surrounding her as she was giving interviews and posing for media photos that you couldn't actually see her. She's not a very big woman, after all, at 5' 2" tall and weighing only 105 pounds, so when you get a bunch of reporters and security personnel standing around her, she kind of disappears from view. Still, that didn't discourage her fans from trying to catch a glimpse.

Her light body mass even prompted former IRL competitor Robby Gordon now a driver-owner in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to remark, in 2005, that he felt that she brought an unfair advantage to open wheel racing, since the driver's weight is not factored into the technical rules governing a car's minimum weight at inspection. This strikes me as a little bit of sour grapes on Robby Gordon's part. You can't blame the driver for being petite remember Zach Veach in the USF2000 Road to Indy series at 5' 2" and only 95 pounds, who also drives for Andretti Autosport, whom I would not be surprised to see advance to IndyCar within the next few years.

IndyCar racing, and other open wheel racing series in particular, like Formula One, require a lot of upper body strength and conditioning from their drivers, especially considering that the IndyCars do not have power-assisted steering, and the drivers can experience G-forces exceeding five or six times the force of gravity repeatedly throughout the course of an event. Wimpy people need not apply. That being said, Formula One has had in place for several years a weight standard that encompasses both the driver and the car, so Robby Gordon's remark likely alluded to a desire to have a similar rule instituted in IndyCar. 

By this point in the season Danica had already made her intention known that 2011 would be her last year driving IndyCars, instead moving over to NASCAR full-time in 2012, where she will no doubt make a lot more money, and hopefully develop a greater record of success than she has brought to her IndyCar driving career. Although she has been the most successful female driver in the history of IndyCar racing, in her seven years with the sport she has only won one race, the 2008 Indy Japan 300 at the Twin Ring Motegi, and she only led for three laps of that race, although she was there when it counted. Her driving talent is certainly beyond reproach, however, having finished in the top ten at the Indy 500 in six out of seven starts, even finishing in third place in 2009.

And she has been probably the most visible and iconic image of IndyCar racing in recent years, with a general public recognition factor probably surpassed only by Mario Andretti, who retired from racing years ago, although he is still a media fixture promoting the sport, present at all the events, even driving fans around the tracks in the stretch-limo two-seater IndyCars. So good luck, Danica, and best wishes in your NASCAR career. Next...

As it turns out, Michael Andretti was already in negotiations to replace Danica Patrick in his stable of drivers for the 2012 IndyCar season. Weeks after the Baltimore Grand Prix, on the morning of October 16, 2011, in Las Vegas, Andretti Autosport signed Dan Wheldon to a multi-year contract to replace Danica Patrick on the team. The darkest day for IndyCar racing in years later unfolded at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway with a multi-car crash in the early stages of the season finale that took the life of Dan Wheldon.

The fan frenzy in the Danica Patrick paddock aside, I continued touring the rest of the competitors area, and when I wandered over to the KV Racing Technologies area everything look reasonably under control with the Takuma Sato and E. J. Viso cars. They were still lacking things like wheels and side pod covers, but those were nearby and don't take any time at all to put on.

However, in the area where Tony Kanaan's car was being prepared a swarm of mechanics surrounded what as I later found out was Tony's backup car being assembled. Over a dozen KV Racing mechanics were hard at work on every part of the machine, all with looks of intense concentration on their faces. Even some of the mechanics from other teams were standing around watching them. The scraped-up under pan of the car that Tony took for a short flight earlier in the morning was leaning forlornly against a pillar nearby. Apparently their efforts paid off nicely for the team, because even though Tony Kanaan was forced to start the race later that afternoon from the rear of the field, he managed to bring the car into third place when the race was finished on a street course where passing is typically difficult to accomplish.

One thing I had noticed since my first visit to the paddock area on Friday, and having the opportunity to see close-up for the first time with engine cowlings removed, was that IndyCars do in fact have something that resembles a muffler on their exhaust systems. You can see it clearly on the photo at left showing a mechanic working on Simona De Silvestro's car, looking like a big silver hotdog bun just in front of the final segment of exhaust that points upward at a 45 degree angle to the rear of the car. Perhaps the term "muffler" isn't exactly accurate however, IndyCar calls it a "silencer" which is even more prone to misinterpretation. It certainly doesn't silence, and in terms of muffling the sound of the Honda Indy V8 engine, it only reduces the sound level of an IndyCar from 125 decibels to about 120 decibels.

The addition of this device occurred in the 2007 season, and further modified in 2009, in an attempt to reduce what was termed the excessively shrill sound of the IndyCars. Having not heard the Honda Indy V8 without it, it's a little difficult for me to relate the difference before and after, but it's been described as having made the cars a lot more "pleasant" to listen to, and it's about the best they could do without making major modifications to the car's architecture, including the underbody, side pod covers, and engine cowling. Of course all this will change in 2012 with the introduction of the new IndyCar chassis and engines still under development and beginning to be tested the soothing whine of the turbocharged engine will return to IndyCar for the first time since the IRL/Champ Car split in 1996, when the normally aspirated engines became the norm for IndyCar.    

  IndyCar race day prep in paddock - Simona De Silvestro
IndyCar race day prep in paddock:
#78 Simona De Silvestro car
IndyCar race day prep in paddock - James Hinchcliffe
IndyCar race day prep in paddock:
#06 James Hinchcliffe car
IndyCar team owner Sam Schmidt
IndyCar race day prep in paddock:
Team owner and former driver Sam Schmidt
  Team Penske stowing Helio Castroneves primary car in hauler
IndyCar race day prep in paddock:
Tem Penske stowing Castroneves primary car in hauler
IndyCar race day prep in paddock - Martin Plowman car
IndyCar race day prep in paddock:
#17 Martin Plowman car
  Indy Lights race - Anders Krohn
Indy Lights race:
#9 Anders Krohn
Indy Lights race - Bruno Andrade

Indy Lights race:
#29 Bruno Andrade
Indy Lights race - Conor Daly

Indy Lights race:
#77 Conor Daly
 

INDY LIGHTS RACE

At noon the pre-race ceremonies for the Firestone Indy Lights series began with their 35-lap race scheduled to begin at 12:15 p.m., so I left the paddock in the Baltimore Convention Center and headed over to the Light Street Terrace area to see if I could lay claim to my preferred vantage point. As it turned out that was rather easy to do, thanks to the enhanced security that the event organizers had ramped up over the past couple of days. Additional spectator fences were now in place to prevent the infiltration of non-VIP area ticket holders, and the Light Street Terrace even had its own dedicated Baltimore City Police officer on hand to assist the volunteers running the area. Most of the race fans in the Light Street Terrace chose to locate themselves in the large, grassy, tree lined area along Light Street just south of McKeldin Fountain, and a smaller grassy bank just to its north. But no one was in my spot, just north of the pedestrian bridge connecting the park to the Light Street Pavilion of Harborplace, probably because there was no place to sit, but that didn't bother me. It was the relative shade, proximity to the spectator fence, and ideal location between the catch fence uprights that I was most interested in; and of course the track itself was only about 15 feet away.

I've never closely followed the Indy Lights series the final step in the Road to Indy before a driver can graduate to IndyCars themselves mainly because their races aren't nearly as well covered by Versus or ABC, the two television networks who trade off broadcasting the IndyCar series, the races they cover tending to be the ones immediately preceding a higher profile IndyCar event. The cars themselves are spec cars essentially identical to one another with a 3.5 liter V8 engine that delivers 420 HP, rev-limited to 8,200 RPM, and a chassis made by Dallara. Despite the 230 HP difference in power, on a street course like the Baltimore Grand Prix, these cars were capable of speeds only about 6 MPH slower than the IndyCars themselves. On an oval track the differences are significantly greater.

A total of 33 drivers participated in the Indy Lights 2011 season, representing 12 countries, although only nine of those drivers participated in the full season schedule. There were 17 teams involved, seven of them single driver teams. Among the bigger teams, Sam Schmidt Motorsports and Team Moore Racing each had six drivers in their stables. A list of drivers who have participated in the Indy Lights series and then gone on to drive in the IndyCar series includes well over a dozen current IZOD IndyCar Series drivers.

Among the more interesting stories is that of Willy T. Ribbs, a current Indy Lights team owner and driver, who was the first African-American driver to qualify for the Indianapolis 500, doing so in 1991 and 1993; and the first African-American to race in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. He formed his own team in 2011 to participate in the Indy Lights, though he finished in 13th place among 16 drivers who started the race in Baltimore.

Indiana-born Conor Daly looked to be the favorite to win, leading 22 of the 35 laps in Baltimore, until he made contact on lap 25 that took him out of the race. Daly had started the race from the pole with a qualifying speed of 83.631 MPH in the light rain that fell on Friday during Indy Lights qualifying. In the end, the win went to the  20 year old Colombian driver Gustavo Yacaman of Team Moore Racing, who finished less than half a second ahead of Josef Newgarden, another 20 year old who hails from Tennessee, driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. The 18 year old Brazilian driver Victor Carbone, also driving for Sam Schmidt, finished in third place. 

  Indy Lights race - David Ostella
Indy Lights race:
#16 David Ostella
Indy Lights race - Duarte Ferreira
Indy Lights race:
#28 Duarte Ferreira
Indy Lights race - Gustavo Yacaman
Indy Lights race:
#2 Gustavo Yacaman
  Indy Lights race - cars in turn 2
Indy Lights race:
Cars in Turn 2 of the Streets of Baltimore course
Indy Lights race - Jorge Goncalvez
Indy Lights race:
#4 Jorge Goncalvez
Indy Lights race - Josef Newgarden
Indy Lights race:
#11 Josef Newgarden
  Indy Lights race - Oliver Webb
Indy Lights race:
#12 Oliver Webb
Indy Lights race - Peter Dempsey
Indy Lights race:
#26 Peter Dempsey
Indy Lights race - Tonis Kasemets
Indy Lights race:
#22 Tonis Kasemets
  Indy Lights race - Victor Carbone
Indy Lights race:
#3 Victor Carbone
Indy Lights race - Willy T. Ribbs
Indy Lights race:
#32 Willy T. Ribbs
IndyCar two-seater with Mario Andretti driving
IndyCar two-seater:
Mario Andretti driving a lucky fan around the course
  IndyCar race - Ana Beatriz
IndyCar race:
#24 Ana Beatriz
IndyCar race - Danica Patrick

IndyCar race:
#7 Danica Patrick
IndyCar race - Dario Franchitti and Ryan Briscoe

IndyCar race:
#10 Dario Franchitti and #6 Ryan Briscoe
IndyCar race - Dario Franchitti

IndyCar race:
#10 Dario Franchitti
IndyCar race - Dario Franchitti

IndyCar race:
#10 Dario Franchitti
IndyCar race - Dario Franchitti
IndyCar race:
#10 Dario Franchitti
IndyCar race - Ed Carpenter
IndyCar race:
#67 Ed Carpenter
IndyCar race - Ed Carpenter
IndyCar race:
#67 Ed Carpenter
IndyCar race - E. J. Viso
IndyCar race:
#59 E. J. Viso

INDYCAR RACE

Following the Indy Lights race and before the weekend's main event the IndyCar race itself a few lucky race fans who registered for the opportunity and were chosen at random got to be driven around the Streets of Baltimore course in one of the outrageous looking "stretch" two-seater IndyCars. There were three such two-seater IndyCars present in Baltimore, and three separate times between racing events over the course of the weekend when they took fans for a spin. The one pictured above at the end of the Indy Lights photo group was driven by legendary driver and former Indy 500 winner Mario Andretti. These are purpose-built chassis made by Dallara, powered by the same engines used in the IndyCar series, and are capable of top speeds around 180 MPH.

What surprised me the most when I saw the two-seaters was that the drivers were not holding back the slightest bit they were going just as fast as the single-seater race cars which I'm sure gave those passengers a true idea of the forces exerted on a race car driver while going through the 12 turns of the Baltimore course. Of course not having an unobstructed straight-ahead view is probably more than a little disconcerting.

By 2:45 p.m. on Sunday, September 4 the scheduled starting time for the 75 lap Baltimore Grand Prix IndyCar race the weather was sunny, and it was a very humid 90 degrees in the Inner Harbor. I actually had in my pocket a reserved seat in the upper row of Grandstand 8 for Sunday and decided not to use it. Originally my plan in purchasing that ticket was to be able to move back and forth during the IndyCar race between the grandstand and the Light Street Terrace, so that I could utilize an additional vantage point for my photography. But the sheer volume of people present on Sunday which was fantastic for the event made that sort of moving back and forth too time consuming. The Light Street Terrace is on the infield portion of the course, and Grandstand 8 was on the outside, which would have forced me to use the pedestrian bridge just above the chosen spot where I had been honing my photographic technique all weekend. I would have missed too much of the action, even though Grandstand 8 was just around Turn 2 where I was. So my $85 grandstand ticket went unused, and I think I made the right call, especially considering that there was no shade in the grandstands. Grandstand 6 would have been a much better choice as it was just nearby me in the infield located on Turn 1.

The pace cars began leading the field around on their parade laps, and finally the pace lap, so I hunkered down and got ready for the start of the race. Unfortunately the race organizers had somehow neglected to provide any loudspeakers in the Light Street Terrace area, so for the entire weekend all of us who had paid $425 for our exclusive access to that prime viewing location were unable to hear the track announcer. I hope this was an oversight that will be corrected in future years, and I'm not exactly complaining there are many lessons race organizers had the opportunity to learn over the course of the weekend in producing such an enormous and complicated event as the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix. Still, it would have been a nice touch to be able to know what was happening overall on the course, who was in the lead, who was making a pit stop, what was the reason for a caution period.

By the time the race started I had become familiar with the liveries for most of the cars, even without having brought along a printed spotter guide, having studied that at home and from having toured the paddock several times. While many of the teams don't change the car's livery scheme over the course of a season, some of them do based upon sponsorships that might be specific to a particular race. Some of the cars are unmistakable the day-glow green paint and graphics on Danica Patrick's Go-Daddy sponsored machine, for example, and I don't think A. J. Foyt's ABC Supply sponsored entry has changed its livery in many years.

In addition, some of the multi-car teams, like KV Racing Technologies and Team Penske in particular, employ very similar liveries for all the cars in their stable, which can make it a challenge for the unfamiliar fan to distinguish between them. In the case of KV Racing, the cars of Takuma Sato, E. J. Viso, and Tony Kanaan are all painted in the green and gold Lotus colors that have endured since the 1960s, and differ primarily in the sponsorship logos on their side pod covers and contrasting paint schemes on the end fences of their rear wings. If you follow the season you know that Tony Kanaan's car has the Geico logo on the side pod, E. J. Viso has the PDVSA logo, and Takuma Sato adopted the stylized "With You Japan" mark on his side pod, the name of the charitable foundation he started in response to the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck his homeland Japan in March of 2011.

Similarly the cars of Will Power and Ryan Briscoe in the Team Penske stable were painted in a black and white scheme with red detailing, differing mainly in the side pod logos of Verizon for Power and Guidepoint Systems for Briscoe, and contrasting rear wing fence colors. It's not enough to know the number of the car, since you probably won't be able to make that out clearly as they go past you at racing speed you really do have to be able to recognize each car at a glance if you want to be able to follow the action during the race. Penske's other entry, driven by Helio Castroneves, had an entirely different livery, primarily red with a white side pod and the Shell V-Power logo.

So without the advantage of hearing the track announcer, the lights on the pace car were turned off, as well as the flashing yellow caution light trackside in Turn 2 which I could see from my vantage point, and I knew that the next time around the field would be given the green flag to begin the race. Even through my earplugs I could hear the roar of the crowds in the grandstands in Turn 1 cheering the beginning of the race, and then the massive roar of the 28 IndyCars as they approached the end of the Pratt Street straightaway together for the first time. I pity anyone in Turn 1 who was not wearing hearing protection at that point, because the sound of 28 Honda Indy V8 engines under engine braking would have been an ear splitting concussive roar.

Fortunately, and somewhat surprisingly given the history of the traditional flying start used in IndyCar racing, there was not a big mash-up in Turn 1 at the beginning of the race, which is even more astonishing considering that it's a 120-degree turn at the end of the fastest portion of the course. Will Power's car came into view leading the pack past my vantage point in what would prove to be a commanding domination of the race. The rest of the field roared past, and then it became quiet as the cars negotiated the Streets of Baltimore to complete the first lap. I was finally witnessing my first IndyCar race in person!

The race quickly fell into a very good rhythm with the field gradually becoming more spread out as the laps ticked by, which I could almost count off for a long while marking each time Will Power drove past, gradually extending his advantage to the point where it looked as though he owned the course to himself. Lap after lap continued in the same manner with various cars changing positions behind him, but Power was completely in control of the race.

By about the mid-point of the race I was beginning to wonder whether it was going to be a completely green flag race, when Tomas Scheckter's car stalled on the track on lap 32 bringing out the caution. The race quickly restarted but only for one lap before Ryan Hunter-Reay and Ryan Briscoe made contact in the Turn 3 hairpin causing a pileup involving multiple cars that brought out another full course caution. It wasn't a major wreck by IndyCar standards, but Marco Andretti's car suffered an oil leak that required a substantial amount of time to clean up, so green flag racing didn't resume until lap 49, throwing a wrench into everyone's strategy.

Had the race resumed in a timely manner after the mash-up in Turn 3 the results might have been different for many of the cars in the field who elected to pit for fuel and a tire change prior to the caution. The long caution period allowed cars who made pit stops during those 10 laps to have enough fuel on board to make it to the end of the race without having to pit again for additional fuel.

By the time the racing was back underway, it suddenly dawned on me that I had been watching most of the event through the lens of my Canon 50D, and by that point I was in danger of filling up the second of the two 4Gb flash memory cards that I had with me anyway. I had photographed everyone in the field by that point, so I decided to just enjoy the spectacle of the racing for most of the remainder of the event, bringing the camera up only occasionally. I became entranced with it listening for the approaching cars braking and barking as they approached Turn 1, watching them exit the turn and being able to tell whether they were on red tires or blacks by seeing if they bobbled, seeing them roar past me, the split-second gear shifts suddenly silencing their engine for an instant before re-engaging with a concussive thump, and seeing them disappear impossibly fast around Turn 2, their left front tires sometimes lifting entirely off the concrete pavement of Light Street.

Except for five laps due to pit stops reshuffling the field, Will Power was unstoppable and drove an entirely masterful race, winning the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix at an average speed including the lengthy caution of 75.046 MPH, and beating second place Oriol Servia by more than 10 seconds. Not even close.

But the next best story of the day was the performance of Tony Kanaan, making his way from a last-place penalty starting position as a result of his early morning drive over the car of Helio Castroneves in the warmup, all the way through the field to a third place finish in the backup car his KV Racing Technologies team was frantically assembling just a few hours before.

  IndyCar race - E. J. Viso
IndyCar race:
#59 E. J. Viso
IndyCar race - Giorgio Pantano
IndyCar race:
#22 Giorgio Pantano
IndyCar race - Graham Rahal
IndyCar race:
#38 Graham Rahal
  IndyCar race - Graham Rahal
IndyCar race:
#38 Graham Rahal
IndyCar race - Helio Castroneves
IndyCar race:
#3 Helio Castroneves
IndyCar race - Martin Plowman and J. R. Hildebrand
IndyCar race:
#17 Martin Plowman and #4 J. R. Hildebrand in turn 2
  IndyCar race - Saavedra, Sato and Scheckter in turn 2
IndyCar race:
Saavedra, Sato and Scheckter in turn 2
IndyCar race - Will Power on three wheels in turn 2
IndyCar race:
#12 Will Power on three wheels in turn 2
IndyCar race - Dario Franchitti on three wheels in turn 2
IndyCar race:
#10 Dario Franchitti on three wheels in turn 2
  IndyCar race - James Jakes
IndyCar race:
#18 James Jakes
IndyCar race - J. R. Hildebrand
IndyCar race:
#4 J. R. Hildebrand
IndyCar race - Martin Plowman
IndyCar race:
#17 Martin Plowman
  IndyCar race - Mike Conway
IndyCar race:
#27 Mike Conway
IndyCar race - Oriol Servia
IndyCar race:
#2 Oriol Servia
IndyCar race - Ryan Briscoe
IndyCar race:
#6 Ryan Briscoe
  IndyCar race - Sebastian Saavedra
IndyCar race:
#34 Sebastian Saavedra
IndyCar race - Simona De Silvestro
IndyCar race:
#78 Simona De Silvestro
IndyCar race - Simona De Silvestro
IndyCar race:
#78 Simona De Silvestro
  IndyCar race - Takuma Sato
IndyCar race:
#5 Takuma Sato
IndyCar race - Takuma Sato
IndyCar race:
#5 Takuma Sato
IndyCar race - Tony Kanaan
IndyCar race:
#82 Tony Kanaan
  IndyCar race - Tony Kanaan
IndyCar race:
#82 Tony Kanaan
IndyCar race - Tony Kanaan
IndyCar race:
#82 Tony Kanaan
IndyCar race - Tony Kanaan
IndyCar race:
#82 Tony Kanaan
  IndyCar race - Vitor Meira
IndyCar race:
#14 Vitor Meira
IndyCar race - Will Power
IndyCar race:
#12 Will Power
IndyCar race - Will Power
IndyCar race:
#12 Will Power
  IndyCar race - Will Power
IndyCar race:
#12 Will Power
IndyCar race - Will Power
IndyCar race:
#12 Will Power
  IndyCar race - Will Power on victory lap at the 2011 Baltimore Grand Prix
Winner of the Inaugural 2011 Baltimore Grand Prix:
#12 Will Power on his victory lap

CONCLUSION

It is difficult to try and comprehend what an enormous challenge it is to mount such a major sports spectacle like the Baltimore Grand Prix from all the angles that went into its planning and execution from selling the idea to the IZOD IndyCar Series to gaining the necessary political support on both the city and state levels, and then trying to convince a sometimes skeptical community, especially those who live and work directly in the area within and surrounding the race course that it could be done, that it could be done well, and that it could actually turn out to be a success and a benefit to Baltimore and the region. But that is exactly what has happened.

The naysayers have been proven wrong on so many levels. Everything didn't go perfectly, but given the magnitude of an event such as this, and considering that this was only its inaugural year, I don't think anyone has much to complain about. This inaugural event was a learning experience for everyone, but Baltimore Racing Development and IndyCar put on an absolutely spectacular event, and they are to be congratulated. Drivers, crew members, and team owners in the IndyCar Series were absolutely blown away by the enthusiastic reception they were given in Baltimore.

Two months have passed at this writing since the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix, and not a day has gone by since that I don't think about what a spectacular event I witnessed over the course of three days in the city I call home. Only time will tell if it has the staying power to be as enduring as Long Beach, but based upon both the fan response and that from all the IndyCar drivers and teams, I'd say we're off to a great start, and I can't wait for next year!
 

   
 

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