No title sponsor likely for Grand Prix of Baltimore

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It appears that for a third year in a row, the Grand Prix of Baltimore will be run without a title sponsor – something that the Labor Day weekend event has never had since its inception in 2011.

General manager Tim Mayer told the Baltimore Business Journal earlier this week that his group is looking for a title sponsorship in the low seven figures and that multiple companies have expressed interest to fill that role for next year’s running.

A title backer would likely ease any lingering concerns about the event’s long-term presence in the IZOD IndyCar Series. Those concerns would appear to come from the Grand Prix’s past history of financial and organizational problems.

The race’s original organizers, Baltimore Racing Development, had its contract with the City of Baltimore terminated in 2011 due to unpaid debts, and the next managing group for the event, Downforce Racing, was quickly dropped after it failed to meet benchmarks set by the city administration.

In May of 2012, Race On Baltimore and Andretti Sports Marketing stepped up to organize the race with limited time to get everything ready; the race went off, but attendance, understandably, took a drop. However, with the luxury of a full year of preparation, things appear to be looking up for the Grand Prix.

While Mayer wouldn’t give exact numbers to the BBJ, he said that ticket sales and corporate suite sales are on line to improve from last year’s marks. In addition, there’s a bigger number of said suites – always a good sign for a street race – and with a 21-day track building schedule (down from 31 days in 2012, per the BBJ), there should be less hassle for the city’s commuters.

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.