The 2011 version of the Baltimore Grand Prix was a success at the gate with more than 100,000 attending the two-day festivities of American Le Mans races on Saturday and IndyCar racing on Sunday. From a business standpoint, however, it looked bleak for a while that there would even be a second race in Baltimore.
Now the Grand Prix of Baltimore is in the stable promotional hands of Andretti Sports Marketing. Michael Andretti and the IndyCar Series feel it is important to the series to have a big race in the Baltimore-Washington region.
So the pressure is on the Andretti Autosport team to win the street race in Charm City. Teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay, who still has an outside chance to win the driver's championship, and Marco Andretti know they carry added pressure, but they welcome the challenge.
Both drivers spoke recently about this race and their approach to taking on the streets of Baltimore.
You come to Baltimore with a chance of beating Will Power for the series championship. Talk about your season.
Hunter-Reay » "Regardless of what happens in Baltimore, we have had an amazing season. We have had three wins, tied with Will [Power] for the most this year. I can't say enough about my team, and the fact that they have put me in a position to win the title is all I could have asked for."
How is the street course in Baltimore?
Andretti » "It is by far the most physical track we run this year. As a driver, I have to be in shape, and my crew has to have our car perfectly set up. I plan on shadowing Ryan in this race and working together with him throughout the day. That said, if I have a chance to win, you can bet that I will because winning the last race of the season and doing it for the team and my family, who are now involved with the race, would be awesome."
How important is it for an Andretti car to win in Baltimore?
Hunter-Reay » "I won the race that Andretti Sports Marketing promotes in Milwaukee, so thus far we are undefeated. And winning here would be great with the drivers' championship on the line."
Andretti » "This is a home race for us. We are from up the road in eastern Pennsylvania, and we have lots of fans here. So yes, winning the race would be sweet. I know that this race is going to continue to get bigger, and it will be one of the premier events on the IndyCar Series."
Examiner columnist Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. Check out his blog, Watch this!, on washingtonexaminer.com.