Last week I wrote an open letter to Indy Racing League new head honcho Randy Bernard here at CBS Sports.com (http://tinyurl.com/23cab64). In the piece I shared some of my thoughts on where the Indy Car series is right now and where it's headed.
Based on a move the series made last week my note wound up in the dead letter office.
In its infinite wisdom the IRL added yet another street circuit to the series' schedule with the announcement of a Baltimore Grand Prix. With all due respect to the fine folks in Maryland if ever there was a word that didn't belong in front of "Grand Prix" it's Baltimore.
Don't get me wrong, I love the city and I mean that sincerely. The Inner Harbor, the Italian restaurants, the setting for "Hairspray" (the original by John Waters not that trumped up musical version), Camden Yards and one of the world's best aquariums are just a few of Baltimore's many attributes. But watching another Indy Car racing parade through whatever goofy street circuit the powers that be come up with is one more example of just how out of touch the IRL management group is with reality.
I have no doubt the event will make money, at least in year one. The novelty of a big time auto racing event (notice how I'm not using the word race) will certainly bring out curiosity seekers and folks looking for a weekend party. Nothing wrong with that.
But I'm afraid that unless Baltimore somehow finds the magic potion that so many other street circuit venues have failed to discover (Denver, Las Vegas, San Jose, Cleveland and Houston to name a few) Maryland will vanish from the IRL calendar in short order.
It's rare for a street circuit to provide what is paramount to a successful auto racing event - a competitive track. More often than not once the green flag flies and the excitement and anticipation dies down, the business of the race plays second fiddle because they are usually boring follow-the-leader affairs.
But the dollars will come in the short term and that appears all the IRL's new management cares for, following the mantra of the previous regime who brought the American open wheel world to its current sorry state. That's a shame and I truly expected more from Mr. Bernard.
I'll hold out hope there is better news coming from the Indy Car world and more foresight than simply repeating its failed history at different zip codes around the country.
At least we'll have crab cakes to look forward to next year.