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Sports Auto Racing

Grand Prix team puts tickets on sale, hires GM

Tickets for the Grand Prix of Baltimore went on sale Monday, a little more than three months before the Labor Day weekend racing festival.

The new organizers of the event, Race On LLC, also announced Monday that they have hired veteran racing professional Tim Mayer to serve as the Grand Prix's general manager.

Mayer, 46, has been chief operating officer of the International Motorsports Association and the American Le Mans Series, which is part of the Baltimore event.

"I enjoy a challenge," said Mayer, speaking by phone. "Organizing a race in less than 100 days is certainly a challenge, but doable."

For last year's race, organizers were selling Baltimore Grand Prix tickets in December, early enough to allow them to be marketed as possible holiday gifts. But city and Race On officials have said they are confident that ticket sales can still be robust. They say many fans buy tickets in the two months before the event.

General admission tickets, which range from $15 to $55, three-day grandstand tickets and passes for a paddock area at the Baltimore Convention Center where cars and drivers will be headquartered are available through Ticketmaster or the website for the group putting on the team, raceonbaltimore.com.

Tickets for reserved seats in the grandstands along the race course, which winds through the Inner Harbor area, are scheduled to go on sale July 15.

For several months, the future of the race had appeared doubtful as two consecutive race teams fell apart. Baltimore Racing Development organized last year's inaugural race but failed to pay millions of dollars to vendors, the city and the state. City officials canceled the group's contract and handed control of the event to Downforce Racing in February, but that group dissolved without making progress.

Race On is headed by two local businessmen: politically connected financier J.P. Grant and contractor Greg O'Neill. Their company has hired racing champ Michael Andretti's sports marketing group to organize the event.

Their general manager, Mayer, is an Atlanta resident. He said he would arrive in Baltimore on Wednesday and live here in the months leading up to the race.

Mayer said he would set up an office and coordinate the actions of employees focused on promoting the race, selling sponsorships and building the track. He also plans to reach out to residents and businesses in neighborhoods near the track.

"I'm the one who understands the thousands of little details of racing," he said.

julie.scharper@baltsun.com

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