BALTIMORE — I’m well aware that there were a number of frustrating things about Sunday’s inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix.
The traffic issues were painful. The construction made navigating Charm City difficult. At times during the last twelve months the Inner Harbor has been an eyesore for visitors and residents alike.
There have been plenty of bumps on the road to the BGP, an event some doubted would ever actually take place.
On Sunday, the only apparent bumps were the ones that took out half of the IndyCar Series field around Turn 3 by the Maryland Science Center.
Sunday’s event was tremendous, both in person and on television. (I uniquely experienced both thanks to Nestor Aparicio’s hospitality.)
The event itself allowed a festival atmosphere for folks who simply wanted to be at the “it” event for the region and didn’t really know anything more about Will Power (the event’s first winner) than Will Hunting (who got her number…I don’t particularly like those apples). There was live music, plenty of food and alcohol, good looking girls, celebrity appearances and giveaways.
For those who were truly interested in racing or just had a fascination with cars, the Baltimore Convention Center was a playground, filled with cars, gear and the opportunity to get up close and personal with the drivers themselves.
It was hard to complain about anything that was going on during the event. Perhaps there were times when the crowds made it difficult to maneuver around the track quickly, but that was to be expected.
The event on television (it aired on VERSUS) was significantly more enjoyable than a typical auto racing event. Instead of simple (boring) left turns, the views of Baltimore provided a lovely backdrop. With many more turns than a track like Dover or Richmond, the race was easier to follow than a typical NASCAR race. With only 75 laps (and lasting only two hours), there was never a feeling of “will this thing ever end?”
I can’t stress how much I enjoyed this thing. I’ll call it a pleasant surprise, as I was mostly uninterested in the event before the weekend. I did not officially decide to attend until Saturday night and was prepared to not enjoy the event whatsoever.
I was wrong. The event was tremendous and easily enjoyable for just about anyone.
Some things about the event can improve before 2012. Sunday’s music lineup was less than impressive (locals Jah Works were the most known act to take the stage). While Jimmie’s Chicken Shack and Collective Soul were legitimate headliners on the first two nights of the weekend, the event could have used a national headliner on Sunday, specifically after the race was over to keep fans from bailing as soon as the checkered flag waved.
It would be great if betting could somehow be incorporated into the event (it’s a great part of the Preakness experience), but sadly laws would have to be changed to make it possible. It is of course very unlikely we see that.
The fencing along the road course was difficult to see past, perhaps clear screens would be a better option in the future.
That’s about it.
The event was great. I had a great time.
I’m looking forward to making the event a part of my Labor Day weekend plans for 2012 and the years following.