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.

Provisional Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew ready for IndyCar ride

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Provisional Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew has done nothing but dominate the 2019 season, winning seven of the 16 races run so far and finishing on the podium in all but two of those events.

Now all the 22-year-old Floridian needs to do to formally clinch the 2019 title is simply start the final two races of the season, both of which will be held this weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

For Askew, his maiden Indy Lights season will likely be one he’ll never forget. 

“It’s been a dream come true,” Askew told NBC Sports. “Being with the championship-winning team from last year, we had a really good shot at winning it again for Andretti Autosport. It’s very rare that we show up to a track and struggle to find speed. 

“That’s a fantastic feeling, especially as a driver. That gave me a lot of confidence and hopes of holding the million dollar check at the end of the year. That was the goal going into it.”

This weekend, Askew will accomplish said goal. The championship will not only bring him a sense of pride, but also the opportunity of a lifetime. 

As an award for being crowned the Indy Lights champion, Askew will be awarded a scholarship that guarantees him entry into a minimum of three NTT IndyCar Series events next year – including the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500. 

Time will only tell which team Askew will race for in IndyCar next season, and whether or not Askew’s rookie campaign will be a full-time or part-time affair, but Askew’s performance during the last few seasons in the Road to Indy system has certainly drawn attention of IndyCar’s top team owners.

In August, Askew had the chance to drive an Indy car for the first time in his career during a test session at Portland International Raceway, driving the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda usually piloted by Scott Dixon.

“It was an opportunity with Chip Ganassi Racing that I was very fortunate to have,” Askew said. “I think with my experience in the past couple of years with Cape Motorsports and this year with Andretti Autosport, going into that test was very helpful.

“Going into the test, it was more of trying to treat it as just another day at the racetrack, when it really wasn’t. It was a fantastic opportunity for me – a great experience – and I hope I can take that into my rookie season next year in IndyCar.” 

The final two races of the 2019 Indy Lights season will take place this weekend on Saturday, September 21 at 6 p.m. ET and Sunday, September 22 at 12:05 p.m. ET. Both races will air live on NBC Sports Gold.

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