It won't be long before racing fans in Baltimore and television viewers from around the world will once again enjoy IndyCar racing with your beautiful waterfront skyline as a backdrop. And as we experienced here last month with Milwaukee IndyFest, I'm confident Michael Andretti and the Andretti Sports Marketing team will get the job done and produce a first-class international event on Labor Day weekend.
Milwaukee has a long and storied tradition in auto racing. The Milwaukee Mile is the oldest active racetrack in the world, having hosted races dating back to 1903. However, after years of decline with a variety of event promoters, the INDYCAR sanctioning body took Milwaukee off its 2012 calendar. That was a blow to our proud city. But, thanks to Andretti Sports Marketing stepping in to resurrect the event with only a few months to prepare, Milwaukee's racing lore continues.
While Baltimore's racing history might not be as lengthy, we understand your Grand Prix has had some similar false starts and difficulties despite a strong crowd at last year's event. Like the Baltimore Grand Prix, Milwaukee IndyFest faced skepticism about a race even happening on such a demanding deadline — but everyone involved came through.
IndyFest brought ticket buyers from 45 states and Canada to Milwaukee for the weekend, greatly benefiting our hotels and restaurants. Prior to the green flag for this year's race, Mr. Andretti announced to the crowd that Milwaukee IndyFest would return in 2013, earning the biggest cheer of the weekend and marking the continuation of a stellar tradition in our city.
I hope the Baltimore Grand Prix becomes as connected to Charm City as our Milwaukee Mile is to us. A successful race event provides immense civic pride and identity, in addition to showcasing your city to television viewers across the country and around the globe.
We've been there, Baltimore, and we can say you're in good hands with a legendary and tested team leading you to the starting line. We know first-hand that with Michael Andretti and his team in your corner, the same success awaits Baltimore.
Tom Barrett, Milwaukee
The writer, a Democrat, is the mayor of Milwaukee, Wis.