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Local contractors propose to organize Grand Prix, pay off some debts

Two Baltimore-based contractors -- including a former race car driver-- have proposed taking over the Baltimore Grand Prix and repaying some of the debts accumulated by the race's former promoters.

Sharon R. Grinnell, president of sGrinnell Enterprises LLC of Owings Mills, and Gregory K. O'Neill, vice president of BMW Construction Specialists of Curtis Bay, approached city officials early last month about organizing the city's Indycar race.

The Baltimore Sun obtained a copy of the proposal that their group, Baltimore Motorsports Group, LLC, submitted to the city.

"We're the home team," Grinnell said in a phone interview. "Many of our team members have experience running businesses on a day-to-day basis."

Sources say that city officials have zeroed in on a group led by Indianapolis-based contractor Dale Dillon to plan the racing festival, which has had an uncertain future since the financial collapse of the company that organized last year's race. Officials have been engrossed in negotiations for several weeks with Dillon, who has close ties to Indycar.

Grinnell and O'Neill said that they were hopeful that city officals would choose to work with them.

"Until a contract is signed... who knows whose game it is," said Grinnell. "We want to be supportive of the city's process."

Grinnell and O'Neill said they made a pitch to Deputy Mayor Kaliope Parthemos and Councilman William H. Cole IV in early January and had some follow-up conversations. But they acknowledged that they hadn't heard from city officials "in the past couple weeks."

Baltimore Motorsports Group would bring together local attorney Greg N. Reamer, Timothy Watkins, president and CEO of Renegade, a local advertising company, and Jeff Knapple, president and CEO of Envision, a naming rights company based in Los Angeles.

Grinnell said that the group would attempt to pay back some of the estimated $12 million in debts left by Baltimore Racing Development and offer contracts to some of the vendors whom the former group did not pay.  Grinnell said that the details had not yet been worked out.

O'Neill, according to the proposal, was part of an Formula 1 racing team in the 1980s.  A letter from PNC bank included in the packet says that he has $4 million in available cash that presumably could be invested in the race.

Geoff Whaling, CEO of North American Motorsports Events, Inc. , also said he submitted a proposal to city officials last month, but had not heard back.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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