Once again, I have to point out the obvious to the oblivious Baltimore media.
In his coverage of the recent race ("First Baltimore Grand Prix had something for everyone," Sept. 5), Peter Schmuck wrote this: "[Will] Power pretty much went wire-to-wire to take the checkered flag, which may leave some novice fans wondering whether there's enough strategy and intrigue on the track to keep their interest from year to year. That's a fair question, and one that probably will be answered with some minor changes in the configuration of the course and with some greater awareness of the intricacies of open-wheel racing in the later incarnations of this event."
I keeping seeing this whole commentary on the event, yet only commentary about IndyCar.
Despite all this, roughly two-thirds of the crowds on Sunday also showed up on Saturday. Why? Well for those of you in the media that have utterly ignored the Le Mans, multi-class racing, it's because there are a lot of passes, a lot of clashes, a lot of differences, that made sure no one who had the pole finished there in any of the classes. That's what Le Mans is, a serious, continuous, switcheroo of position and strategy, start-to-finish, often across classes.
Yes, despite the utter lack of the Baltimore media paying any attention to ALMS, promoting it not-at-all, the grandstands were still filled for ALMS, and the standing crowds made the official attendance nearly double what the grandstands were. It seems that in addition to open wheel, the people embraced sports car racing, fenders and all, even if they never heard about it thanks to the Baltimore media. And it seems that the Baltimore media still doesn't talk about anything other than the bickering and a few IndyCar details.
The media talked all about Colin Powell being the grand marshal, but nothing about his equivalent for the ALMS race. I'll make you do your homework here, but here's a hint — he's got a lot of gold medals. The people got a serious eye and earful of prototypes and production cars, rooted for BMW, Corvette, Ferrari, Porsche and many others.
And the spectators loved it. I don't know why the Baltimore media wasn't onboard. I don't know why they really gave ALMS no thought at all and, if ALMS was lucky, one sentence in a blog or opinion sandwiched between bickering and IndyCar details. But the crowds loved ALMS! Several people told me mid-Indy Car that the ALMS race was far more exciting.
Then again it's ALMS, Le Mans being the most enduring racing series and approach in the world. It's been around since before our grandparents were born. It will still be around when our grandkids are telling their kids how their grandparents were at the first Baltimore Grand Prix. I had a lot of fun telling people about ALMS at the race, explaining the history, the classes the ACO, FIA and IMSA sanctioning. And I'll continue to enjoy it every year the Baltimore Grand Prix runs.
Bryan J. Smith