More shaky ground lies ahead for the Baltimore Grand Prix.
Race On LLC, which financed the professional motorsport event, decided Sept. 12 that the scheduling conflicts with other events planned for Labor Day weekend blocked further participation in the event billed “Celebration of Acceleration.”
They had been at the helm of organizing the race since last year, making the company the third business to take on the event after the Baltimore Racing Development folded, and Downforce Racing was terminated in 2012.
“Last year was a stabilizing year. This year we actually moved the race forward,” said J.P Grant, leader of Race On LLC. “We hit a home run.”
Grant said that Race On LLC will no longer be a part of the Grand Prix simply because events already taking place in coming years during Labor Day weekend in Baltimore have made it impossible to book the necessary space at the Baltimore Convention Center.
Grant said that next year Ohio State’s football team is scheduled to play Navy in Baltimore Labor Day weekend.
And in 2015 a convention is scheduled for Labor Day weekend.
“We had to work around those dates, and with all the different parties involved, we just couldn’t come up with a date that worked with the schedule of all the different parties,” Grant told the AFRO. “There were just too many moving parts to this. We couldn’t get a positive conclusion.”
The Grand Prix closed out it’s first year millions of dollars in the red. City taxes and fees were left unpaid, and city businesses were left holding the bag after they invested into the initiative.
Grant said that over 150,000 people showed up for the event this year, versus 131,500 last year. There was also a significant increase in local sponsorships, including support from Maryland Live, Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. and Southern Spirits.
“We had a five-year contract and two years into it we could compare favorably to any race in the country,” said Grant. “We had sponsors that were line up for 2014 and 2015, but if we go to them and say that we aren’t having a race, they will think hard about us coming back in 2016 saying ‘the race is on.’”
“It would be very difficult to regain the momentum that we have to put on a comparable race. To wait until 2016 would be starting from zero for us.”
Grant said that his key objective for taking on the challenge of the Baltimore Grand Prix was to “show Baltimore what can happen when you think big and have the right team in place.”
“This race was shown in more than 160 countries worldwide. I wanted to expand the image of the city,” he said.
No future replacement for Race On, LLC is in sight at the moment, but Grant said that he would be glad to work with future organizers and share his experience.
Grant said that the fourth company to take over the Grand Prix should be well capitalized and have someone in the ranks that understands the racing business.