Friday, September 2, 2011

The New Preakness

Baltimore Grand Prix Harbor Rendering |
 McCormick Taylor, Inc.

The Baltimore Grand Prix is finally upon us. Some people are really excited, others not so much. Will the race make money?  Is it good for Baltimore?  Is it worth the money spent on track construction? Is it worth the strain it has put on the daily commute? My answer to all of these questions is a resounding YES!

Baltimore has a public relations problem. TV shows like Homicide and The Wire have convinced many, from all parts of the country, that our little Charm City is nothing more than a nest of drug dealers, crack heads, and murderers. We’ve done very little to correct that image. Sure, it is true that people get to see Baltimore when the Ravens and Orioles are on TV, and for a few moments when the Preakness is aired.  But those images of Baltimore are restricted to inside views of the ballparks and the Pimlico infield. They don’t show the streets of Baltimore.

The Baltimore Grand Prix with its Indycar TV coverage and American LeMans Series coverage will showcase Baltimore to 120 different countries. Each will be a two hour advertisement of the best the City has to offer.  Viewers will get to see one of the most magnificent racetracks in the world!  Our beautiful skyline, the Inner Harbor, and the stadiums will help show a side of Baltimore the casual TV viewer never sees.  Only Monte Carlo and Long Beach have ever attempted to do what Baltimore has done!

There is no doubt there have been problems. Street closures have been irritating.  Thursday morning traffic was a nightmare. But, it is the event’s first year and we will all learn to do it better. The Baltimore Grand Prix has the potential to be one of the finest car races in the world.  More importantly, it has the potential to boost the city’s image and change the perception that there is nothing to see in Charm City.  It has the potential to boost our tourism industry, meaning more jobs in our hotels, restaurants, and attractions.  The Grand Prix could be just like the Preakness, or Fort McHenry, or our incredible stadiums…something we should all be proud to call our own.

Shawn Herne is the Chief Curator for the Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation, Inc.

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