Baltimore selects new race operator for Baltimore GP

Downtown Baltimore will again come alive Labor Day weekend with the sound of turbocharged IZOD IndyCar Series cars.

Mayor Stephanie-Rawlings Blake announced Feb. 15 that she has selected Downforce Racing to produce the Baltimore Grand Prix through 2016. Downforce Racing — a partnership comprised of two Baltimore-based entrepreneurs and an Indianapolis-based construction executive with extensive motorsports experience — replaces Baltimore Racing Development, which organized and ran the inaugural event in 2011.

Dale Dillon, who owns Indianaolis-based Dillon Construction Group and Dillon Racing, and Wilkes Lane Racing’s Felix J. Dawson and Daniel C. Reck are the promoter principals.
Dillon has served as head of operations for INDYCAR races in St. Petersburg and Toronto, and was brought in to manage the operations of the 2011 Baltimore Grand Prix just weeks before the Sept. 2 race. Dawson and Reck are founding partners of Wilkes Lane Capital, which focuses on advisory services and private investing in the energy sector. Both are former executives of Constellation Energy.

The partners impressed Mayor Rawlings-Blake with their experienced executive leadership, credentials in racing operations and strong financial management capabilities.

Dillon, who’s also seeking to stage an INDYCAR race weekend in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in 2013, said the group expects last year’s $47 million economic impact to the city to increase as the event becomes a Labor Day staple. The race weekend also was a promotional home run for the city with an estimated 160,000 spectators , including 41 percent from outside Maryland, flooding the fan-friendly venue.

“(St. Pete and Toronto) are great events with great attendance,” he said. “It’s a model we’ll be fortunate enough to learn from. These races can be successful and they can be money-makers. There’s a passion side to it, and they go hand in hand.”

The NBC Sports Network will broadcast the IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights races (taped). Will Power of Verizon Team Penske won the inaugural race.

“The new promoter brings a proven track record in motorsports operations and event management to the race,” said INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard, who will join Lotus HVM Racing driver Simona de Silvestro in Baltimore Feb. 16 for a promotional event. “We are confident that this new team will continue to grow the event and make it a success for all those involved.”

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