American Le Mans Series weighs in on Baltimore grand prix hopes

After Tuesday’s story about the potential cost to Baltimore to host a grand prix-style race along city streets, I received an e-mail from the vice president of public relations for the American Le Mans Series of auto racing. (The series brought a car race to Washington, D.C.’s RFK Stadium parking lot in 2002 but did not finish out the remaining 9 years of its contract due to opposition from the surrounding neighborhood.)

Here’s what Bob Dickinson had to say:

“From our perspective, our Washington, D.C. race was the most successful first-year event ever conducted in the history of the American Le Mans Series. It was a fantastic venue and embraced by media and fans. The reason we were unable to return was the result of a lawsuit that was filed by a small group of activists over noise pollution. Street races are a fairly cost-intensive venture. We are approached by several cities a year who would like for us to come to their city streets to race and create a mega-event. We make it very clear that it usually takes at least a three-year commitment to break even due to start-up and infrastructure costs associated with creating a temporary street circuit….Other races have come and gone because cities/local promoters don’t understand the pro forma or in some cases, get cut short by ‘politics.’”

Dickinson also noted James Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, was right when I quoted him as saying no two races are the same and the reasons they sometimes don’t return are varied — and it’s not just the money. For example, D.C. did not keep local residents in the loop about the race plans (according to reports at the time) and did not tell the neighborhood about the 2002 grand prix until a year beforehand.

In Baltimore’s case...

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