If you like fast cars, checkered flags, and lots of VIP sightings, you'll love Sept. 4.
That's when INDYCAR's Grand Prix comes to downtown Baltimore as part of a five-year agreement that is remarkable not just for the three years of planning it took to realize, but also for the tens of millions of dollars and international attention it promises.
As with any such initiative, there was opposition along the way over the cost, the risk, and the traffic jams that resulted from making the race route ready. But I've been a supporter of this all along, and thanks to early backing from players like Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and City Councilman William H. Cole IV, a couple dozen private investors, and the efforts of the organizers to get community feedback, I am convinced this will succeed. I'm also grateful for the support of Orioles managing partner and über lawyer Peter Angelos, who helped get physical changes from the Stadium Authority to accommodate the race cars.
I can only remind Baltimoreans that every big idea that has ever been presented has faced opposition, from (voter-approved) slots to keystones to our future like Charles Center, Harbor East, and even Harborplace.
Like Harborplace, the Grand Prix will be a boon for Baltimore. As contributor Mike Unger points out in "The Fast and the Furious," tens of thousands of tickets have already been sold, and hotels are filling fast.
Gentlemen (and Danica Patrick), start your engines.
We have a new addition to unveil this month on our last inside page, once inhabited by the time-tested "Grill" feature. It's "Afterwords," by Michael Olesker, longtime columnist and commentator for TV, newspapers, and radio, who will give you a monthly dose of Baltimore nostalgia. We think you'll enjoy it.
Finally, I want to share my pride at the graduation of my daughter Breanna from York College in Pennsylvania, receiving her B.A. in theater, cum laude. But this was not just another May graduation for us: She is the first in my immediate family to hold a college degree. Best of luck, Breanna. I know you're going to be a movie star!