IndyCar’s first Baltimore race outpaces crowd estimate

IndyCar Series officials are calling their first race in Baltimore Sept. 4 a big success.

City and race officials were hoping for a three-day crowd of 100,000. Baltimore officials estimated the race drew 75,000 and the three-day total, including practices and qualifications, was near 150,000.

Seating for the street race was limited to less than 40,000, but many of the street course’s corners were packed with standing spectators.

The two-mile, 13-turn course on city streets ran past the Inner Harbor and around Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Terry Angstadt, president of the IndyCar Series’ Commercial Division, compared the Baltimore weekend to the series’ race in Long Beach, long known to be one of the most successful U.S. road course events.

Success for the race is especially important because the Baltimore Grand Prix is the series’ only mid-Atlantic region event.

That’s not to say the weekend went off without a hitch.

The installation of some fencing delayed practices on Sept. 2, there were problems with club seating and sections being oversold, and lines at security checkpoints and pedestrian bridges created bottlenecks.

While several downtown Baltimore restaurants reported their biggest Labor Day weekend ever, others said they saw little race business and told local news outlets the race scared off regular customers.

Baltimore officials and race promoters promised to work with area restaurants and stores to broaden the economic impact next year.

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