Report: Boston condo owners look to block IndyCar race in 2016

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For one weekend and one weekend only in 2016 – Labor Day weekend to be specific – the city of Boston will be the home to a Verizon IndyCar Series event.

According to the Boston Globe, a race on the holiday weekend is an inconvenience to condo owners in the area of the city where the event will be ran on an 11-turn, 2.2-mile temporary street course.

A lawyer for the Seaport Lofts Condominium Association sent a 14-page letter to Boston mayor Martin Walsh detailing its grievances with the proposed race on the South Boston waterfront.

The letter states the residents are worried about access to their homes, parking, public safety and noise.

“We wrote this letter hesitantly in that we’ve never had to reach out as we’re doing here for help, but there was no process here,” said Gary Godinho, a member of the condo association’s board of trustees. “We’ve got to do our own due diligence to protect our homes.”

In 2015, IndyCar held four race weekends on temporary street courses in Long Beach, Calif., St. Petersburg, Fla., Detroit, Mich., and Toronto.

The Boston race, scheduled for Sept. 2-4 of next year, was agreed to in May. Next year’s race would be the first in a five-year agreement.

The Globe reports that the race contract “requires city officials to help land a title sponsor and to pay for street improvements needed for the event.”

The report also says that the process of erecting barriers for the race would run from three weeks before the race, and that race organizers would coordinate with resident on how fence erection would commence.

But the contract between IndyCar and Boston is also at odds, the Globe reports.

David Lurie, a lawyer representing the condo group, wrote that the city’s contract is illegal because the city didn’t seek competitive bids, in part because the contract allows Grand Prix of Boston to extensively use city streets without paying any charge.

The Boston Herald has more on the contract and further negotiations for the event, which are being helped along by some of the same people who were involved in the city’s aborted bid for the 2024 Olympic games.

Mayor Walsh originally claimed the event would be “privately funded” but that seems to have changed since May.

“We’re still negotiating,” the Herald was told by Kate Norton, spokeswoman for the race and a former aide to Walsh. Norton’s consulting firm CK Strategies was part of the Olympic bid. “Some of these roads are under state jurisdiction.”

Walsh told the Herald he expects the the event next year to generate tens of millions of dollar and that “Anything we use we expect to get reimbursed.”

Writes the Herald:

The costs could include millions of dollars in police details and other security, as well as extra road paving to handle the noisy Indy-style cars, which fly at speeds of up to 180 miles per hour — or about 170 miles an hour faster than normal Boston traffic. The construction plans also include temporary seating for thousands of spectators, which would take about a month to build and then tear down.

While Walsh has been the main booster, much of the actual course runs along roads controlled by Massport, the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority and the state Department of Transportation. In addition, the organizers are planning events such as a waterfront concert that would use public resources.

The MCCA is working on signing an event contract, which would typically give the authority a cut of revenues or fees in exchange for renting out its facilities and services, according to spokeswoman Rachel Weiss.

Mario Andretti says Colton Herta could be next American star in F1

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Mario Andretti’s last Formula One victory is also the last by an American driver in more than 42 years on the international open-wheel road racing series.

If you had told Andretti that while he was celebrating on the Grand Prix of the Netherlands podium on Aug. 27, 1978 at the Vandzoort circuit, he wouldn’t have believed it.

“Absolutely not,” Andretti told Kyle Petty during the most recent “Coffee With Kyle” episode (video above). “It’s a shame. Somehow we have so much talent here, and either there’s no invitation or something there. But I think it’s time to give some of this young talent that, in my opinion, is absolutely capable.”

The Dutch GP was the last of Andretti’s 12 victories in F1 and came during his championship season. No one since has come close to matching his success in F1.

Mario Andretti drives his Lotus-Ford to victory in the 1978 Grand Prix of the Netherlands (Bernard Cahier/Getty Images).

Andretti’s son, Michael, took a full-time ride with McLaren in 1993 but left with three races remaining in a season marred by crashes and mechanical problems.

Scott Speed was the last American to run a full F1 season in 2006, and Alexander Rossi made the most recent F1 start by a U.S. driver in 2015. Rossi has said he has no desire to return to racing in Europe after winning the 2016 Indianapolis 500 and becoming an IndyCar championship contender.

But Mario Andretti believes Andretti Autosport has another rising star with F1-caliber ability.

“Colton Herta is one that comes to mind,” Mario Andretti said. “As a young lad, his dad sent him to Europe, he was doing Formula 3, and he knows most of the circuits there. He’s trained. He’s showed in his rookie season and won some premium races at COTA (and Laguna Seca), beat two of the very best Indy has to offer (in) Will Power and Scott Dixon.

“This is one kid I’d love to see him get a break over there to fly the U.S. colors again.”

Herta, 20, seems interested in exploring an F1 leap over the next few years. After winning Sept. 13 at Mid-Ohio from the pole position (his third career victory in the NTT IndyCar Series), the No. 88 Dallara-Honda driver is ranked fourth in the standings in his sophomore year and regarded as one of the series’ top prospects.

Herta recently told RACER.com “I’d love to give Formula 1 a crack” but said he also would be happy driving in IndyCar and IMSA.

A naturalized U.S. citizen who told Petty about spending several years with his family in an Italian refugee camp before coming to America, Mario Andretti said F1 brought an enormous sense of patriotic pride.

“Formula One is like the Olympics in a sense,” he said. “You’re in a different country, a different continent. When you earn that highest step of the podium, they play your national anthem. That’s when you take nothing for granted. You feel like I’m representing my country, and the proudest moments are those.

“I’d just like to see some other American drivers experience that. It’s time.”

Mario Andretti with four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton before the Nov. 22, 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).

During the “Coffee With Kyle” conversation, Andretti also discussed:

–His versatility as a winner in IndyCar, sports cars, NASCAR and Formula One;

–His 1967 Daytona 500 victory and how he enjoyed racing with crew chief Jake Elder at the famed Holman-Moody team;

Mario Andretti Colton Herta
Mario Andretti and Kyle Petty saluted “The King” by wearing their Richard Petty-style hats during the latest “Coffee With Kyle” (NBCSN).

–Why he delayed his entry to F1 for a few years because of his earnings power in IndyCar. “I always say I’d race for free, but at the same time, you’re thinking of family and the future,” he said. “It was in the back of your mind that you can’t give up the earning power of IndyCar. That kept me from going full time in Formula One, but I always said that sometime in my career, I’d have to devote a period to Formula One.”

–On what it was like racing in an era when driver deaths were more prevalent. “If you’re going to do this, you’re not going to dwell on those negatives,” Andretti said. “There’s no way. You knew it was present. Especially in the ‘60s at the beginning of the season at the drivers meetings, you couldn’t help but look around and say, ‘I wonder who is not going to be here at the end of the season.’ We’d lose four to five guys. In ’64, we lost six guys.

“It’s something if you dwell on that, you’re going to take on a different profession. It’s a desire and love to want to drive that overcame all that and then the confidence it’s not going to happen to me. And then you pray.”

Watch the full “Coffee With Kyle” episode in the video above or by clicking here.

Mario Andretti looks on before the 103rd Indianapolis 500 on May 26, 2019 (Chris Graythen/Getty Images).