Letter of intent to protect taxpayers from Boston Grand Prix costs

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Boston-area taxpayers that fear they may get stuck paying for part of next September’s Grand Prix of Boston can rest a bit easier.

Grand Prix organizers, along with several Massachusetts state agencies and officials from the city of Boston on Friday signed a joint letter of intent that “outlines several taxpayer protections and agreements that all parties intend to negotiate over the next several months,” according to IndyCarBoston.com.

“We’re committed to bringing this world-class event to Boston,” Grand Prix of Boston CFO John Casey said in a media release. “And while we haven’t reached the finish line of the planning process just yet, we will continue to work in partnership with all of the stakeholders involved to host an event that works for residents, business and visitors alike.”

The agreements provide protection on a number of fronts for the Sept. 2-4 event including:

* All costs associated with the event will not include taxpayer monies.

* The Seaport area, which is where a significant part of the street race will be contested upon, will be returned to its pre-event condition.

* Provide regular opportunities for public input over the next eight-plus months to assure any public concerns are dealt with in a timely manner.

Among the state agencies that signed off on the letter of intent were the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, Massachusetts Convention Center Authority and the Massachusetts Port Authority.

The letter of intent is essentially an agreement that each party will live up to its obligations as part of hosting the inaugural IndyCar race, but also to serve as a check-off that all other parties are doing the same.

The agencies, the city and race organizers are currently working on developing detailed plans covering areas such as security, traffic and other elements to make the event run as smooth as possible, and with as little distraction or inconvenience, particularly to area residents around the track layout, as well.

“I am pleased that the City of Boston, Grand Prix and our other administration have made progress on the project and provided protections for taxpayers, Boston residents and our state,” Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Barker said in a statement.

Added Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, “This agreement is a tangible step forward for the event and will protect our taxpayers, ensure that there is a strong community process and provide the highest level of cooperation among all the agencies involved.”

Click here to see a full version of the letter of intent.

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Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.