The new organizers of the Baltimore Grand Prix said Tuesday they expect to lose money on the race this year, but pledged that no vendor or taxpayer would get stiffed.
In a meeting with editors of The Baltimore Sun, J.P. Grant, the Columbia-based financier heading Race On LLC., said he hopes the group will turn a profit running a second race in 2013. He declined to say how many tickets his group has sold to date, though he said sales were on track. Grant also declined to make the race's financial books public, though he said he would provide reports to the city.
Asked if there was any chance his group would fail to pay taxpayers and vendors as last year's organizers did, Grant replied there was "zero" chance of that happening again.
"We have a singular focus of getting 2012 done and getting 2012 done correctly," Grant said. "Then we'll focus on 2013."
The group has an agreement with the city to manage the race for five years.
The race's general manager, Timothy A. Mayer of Andretti Sports Marketing, said the prospects did not look good for securing a title sponsor for this year's Labor Day weekend event. But he said the group was prepared to put on the race without one.
"The answer is an honest no. It's unlikely," Mayer said of getting a title sponsor. "In great candor, that's not anything we're holding our breath for."
He said the organizers plan on launching a marketing campaign on July 15. Tickets went on sale in late May.
The race organizers promised they would not cut down any trees for this year's event and would cover half the cost of replacing those cut down before last year's race.
Grant said he was willing to underwrite losses.
Race On is headed by two local businessmen: Grant, who has been a larger donor and supporter of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, and contractor Greg O'Neill. Their company has hired racing champ Michael Andretti's sports marketing group to organize the event.
Last year's race, run by Baltimore Racing Development, was generally regarded as a hit with racing fans, but lost millions, leaving debts owed to vendors and taxpayers.