Rob Dyson had just seen his two American Le Mans Series P1-class cars finish first and second overall at the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix Saturday, but one of the first things on his mind was the scene in the city.
"I hope the pictures from that podium scene go into the Baltimore Chamber of Commerce's presentations," said Dyson, who saw Al Masaood and Steven Kane accept the winners trophy and his son Chris and his co-driver Guy Smith take second. "The Mayor, who took a gamble, or what seemed to be a gamble to the unknowing, it was very brave and very bold for the city of Baltimore to pull off something like this. The cars we brought, the track they built. The fan support was absolutely staggering."
Tomy Drissi and Kyle Marcelli won the PC class and finished third overall in an Oreca FLM09, while Bryan Sellers and Wolf Henzler drove their Porsche 911 RSR to victory in the GT class. The GTC class went to Tim Pappas and Jeroen Bleekemolen in their Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
The crowd that watched as Kane took the lead an hour into the race was massive. There were areas around the course where it was difficult to walk. Before the race, Chris Dyson said he looked up from the ALMS paddock near M&T Bank Stadium and was stunned to see hundreds of people lining the roofs of Baltimore's tall buildings.
"We're fortunate to go to a lot of great, traditional circuits," Chris Dyson said. "When we come to new markets, this rivals or surpasses all of them. The hospitality, the service. This really is Charm City. And the crowds, it was like being at Le Mans [the most prestigious sports car racing circuit in the world]."
Olympic swimming star Michael Phelps, who gave the command to drivers to start their engines, tweeted: "This is one of the top 5 coolest things I've ever done. Baltimore Grand Prix. Amazing."
It was the scene of Masaood and Kane's first victory. The teammates have been racing in the series for less than four months, competing in just five races. But Saturday Masaood had the good fortune to be ahead of a pile-up on the first lap in the first turn, and that set the stage for Kane's steady drive to the finish. It was the Dyson Team's first 1-2 finish since 2005.
"As a car owner, I take a great deal of pride in our team running so well," Rob Dyson said. "I felt anticipation, fear — because I've seen a lot of wins disappear in the closing laps — and then, when they crossed the finish line, joy. We won. We finished one-two. You can't do any better."