As the second annual Baltimore Grand Prix prepares to start this Labor Day Weekend, it’s important for those planning to attend to know that the IZOD IndyCar Series isn’t the only thing to watch.
While IZOD Series racing is the marquee event, four other races need to be checked out: the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron; the Firestone Indy Lights; the Star Mazda Series and the U.S. F2000 Series.
The Star Mazda Series and the U.S. F2000 Series will each consist of two different races, the first race for both scheduled for Sept. 1 and the second race for both on Sept. 2.
The U.S. F2000 Series Race One will start on Sept. 1 at 1:45 p.m., while the Star Mazda Series Race One starts at 2:35 p.m. Race Two for the Star Mazda Series begins on Sept. 2 at 11:35 a.m., while the U.S. F2000 Series Race Two starts an hour earlier. The Star Mazda Series and the F2000 Series are both open-wheel racecar driver development series that serve to develop new talent for the Indy Car Series. The phrase refers to single-seat vehicles designed with the wheels outside the body of the car. Many former Star Mazda Series drivers like Marco Andretti have gone on to become successful Indy Car Series drivers.
The American Le Mans Series race begins on Sept. 1 at 4:30 p.m. Next behind the Indy Car Series, the ALMS race is the probably the second biggest attraction for the Baltimore Grand Prix. The ALMS race will feature many different exotic cars, from hybrids and GT engine type cars to 200-mph diesel-powered vehicles. Unlike the other races, the AMLS race isn’t judged by who crosses the finish line first; instead, the winner will be judged by who maintains the lead over a specific duration of time. For the Baltimore Grand Prix, the ALMS will run for two hours.
The Firestone Indy Lights race, another developmental automobile racing series sanctioned by Indy Car that introduces newer talent to the industry, will start on Sept. 2 at 12:45 p.m.
Following the Firestone Indy Lights race is the main event, the IZOD Indy Car Series race, scheduled to start at 1:55 p.m. The Indy Car Series will feature all of the premiere Indy Car drivers in the world, including 2011 Baltimore Grand Prix winner and Australia native Will Power, who currently sits atop of the 2012 Indy Car Series season standings with three victories and 422 points. Other star drivers competing includes top American driver Ryan Hunter-Ready, who just won a race at London last week, and four-time Indy Car Series champion Dario Franchise. Marco Andretti, son of legendary motor race legend Michael Andretti, will also race in the Indy Car Series.
The Indy Car race in Baltimore will last 75 laps in a clock-wise directional track that starts and finishes at Pratt Street near the Inner Harbor.
No African-American drivers will be competing in any of the races in this year’s Baltimore Grand Prix, but Chris Miles, owner of Starting Grid, Inc., told the AFRO he would be present at the BGP. Starting Grid, Inc. is an advocacy group that encourages a “purposeful and persistent approach towards integrating all facets of the motorsports industry through strategic alliances and partnerships.”
Miles told the AFRO that he will be at the Baltimore Grand Prix with one of his clients, Chase Austin, a 22-year-old African-American driver for A.J Foyt Racing who is currently preparing to race in the 2013 Indy 500 race. If Austin qualifies for the Indy 500, he will become just the third Black driver to drive in the famous race behind George Mack (2002) and Willie T. Ribbs (1991). Miles has a long history of working with Black drivers; he encouraged Ribbs to come out of retirement last year to race as the only Black driver in the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix in 2011.