Baltimore Sun

Baltimore's Grand Prix lands largest sponsor

The Grand Prix of Baltimore has landed its largest sponsor to date, officials said Wednesday.

Called a "presenting sponsor," Chrysler Group's Street and Racing Technology — SRT — will be added to the race's official logo. The sponsorship will bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars, officials said, but not as much as a title sponsorship, which runs more than $1 million.

Officials with Race On LLC, the group putting on the city's race, would not discuss specific dollar amounts.

"Race On has been able to achieve one of its ultimate goals," said John Lopes, president of Andretti Sports Marketing. "It's a significant investment with the event. There is still the opportunity for a title sponsor to come on board, in addition to SRT. There's also the possibility of SRT to grow into a title role."

The second running of the IndyCar race will take place over Labor Day weekend along streets near the Inner Harbor.

The city terminated its contract with the group that put on last year's inaugural race, Baltimore Racing Development, after it failed to pay millions of dollars to vendors, the city and the state. That group failed to gain a title sponsor or a presenting sponsor.

J.P. Grant, the Columbia-based financier heading Race On LLC — which has a five-year contract to put on the city's IndyCar race — has pledged that there's "zero" chance of such a financial disaster happening again. Grant has said his group is prepared to lose money in the race's first year and doesn't expect to land a title sponsor.

Race On is headed by two local businessmen: Grant, who is CEO of Grant Capital Management and a supporter of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake; and construction contractor Greg O'Neill. Their company has hired racing champion Michael Andretti's sports marketing group to organize the event.

Race On is the third group to head Baltimore's Grand Prix. After city officials canceled the contract with Baltimore Racing Development, they handed control of the event to Downforce Racing in February. But that group dissolved without making progress.