The Baltimore Sun reports that organizers of the Baltimore Grand Prix are grappling with mounting financial problems, including a missed loan payment to the state and lawsuits alleging nearly $1.6 million in unpaid bills, raising questions about their ability to host next year's event.
Officials claim they sold 110,000 tickets to the inaugural running of the IndyCar and American Le Mans Series doubleheader in downtown Baltimore. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and other city officials hailed it a success. However, two months after the event, Baltimore Racing Development – the company formed to run the Grand Prix – has acknowledged financial missteps, such as failure to pay the vendor that erected the grandstands. The racing company, which has said the inaugural event was a money loser, also faces other accusations, including that it did not repay a $50,000 loan from the CEO's father-in-law.
"They've got to figure out a way to make this thing work," City Councilman William H. Cole IV, one of the staunchest supporters of the event, told the Sun. "They've been struggling mightily coming out of the first year to keep everything together. I'm hoping they find a way to weather the storm."
Pete Collier, chief operating officer at Baltimore Racing Development, acknowledged that it has missed payments to vendors and lenders but vowed to settle all debts and that the event would be back in 2012.
"There are vendors that we owe. Many of them are personal friends," Collier said in an interview on Wednesday. "We are going to make the payments. We're going through some issues, and I'm trying like hell to get out in front of it."