His friend Ken Kocun, a McCormick employee from Towson, said he was "disappointed" by the blue screens blocking views of the track throughout much of the festival area. The screens prevented fans from watching the race when they were not in the grandstands or designated general admission viewing areas.

"I don't mind them on the outside," blocking views for people without tickets, he said. "But I don't like them on the inside."

Hundreds of fans lingered just outside the race footprint and managed to find spots where the blue scrim did not obscure their view. Parkville residents Tony Lorber and his son, Bart Lorber, watched the race from the patio of the Pratt Street Ale House, where the managers had secured unobstructed views of the course by paying organizers a $5,000 fee.

"They'll make the $5,000 back easily," said Tony Lorber, who works in solar power.

"We didn't have to buy tickets and this a great way to watch it," said Bart Lorber, an Exelon Corp. employee.

The Lorbers said they were racing fans, although they preferred NASCAR to IndyCar. This year's event drew a larger percentage of serious racing fans than last.

"We saw people who had no idea last year," Tony Lorber said.

Trouble for Baltimore Racing Development, which conceived and ran the inaugural race, began after the happy crowds left the city. They struggled to pay debts, and still owe the city $750,000 for city services such as police and fire department support. Race On made a point of pre-paying many of those fees, or having admissions and amusement taxes from the race weekend put in escrow accounts. General manager Tim Mayer said attendance would not be an important benchmark; emphasizing instead the establishment of a more professional aura.

"We're happy the neighbors have been patient," said Kaliope Parthemos, the city's deputy chief for economic development. "The first year there were bumps in the road, and the second year is getting better and better."

Councilman William H. Cole IV, who represents the downtown area, said he walked through surrounding neighborhoods Saturday night and found more race fans had left the track to patronize local businesses. Mayer said several adjustments were made to the race schedule and footprint to ensure visitors have the time and ability to see other parts of the city.

He and Grant say they will now re-approach local and national businesses, hoping to procure sponsorship deals that will help them better plan and promote the 2013 event.

"This was a worst case scenario," Grant said of the truncated timeline. "We can build from this."

julie.scharper@baltsun.com

chris.korman@baltsun.com