Summer’s last hurrah will potentially usher in a new Boston tradition: The Grand Prix on Boston. The Grand Prix is run under the guidance of IndyCar, an open wheeled racing series that has been featured on ABC, CBS, ESPN, Fox, and TNN. The IndyCars are single-seat, open-cockpit cars, featuring a 2.2-liter, twin turbocharged, direct-injected V-6 engine, optimized to run at 12,000 RPM with up to 700 horsepower. According to the IndyCar website, there are forty million IndyCar fans worldwide. One out of every five people is a fan in the United States. The Grand Prix will take place during Labor Day weekend.
Boston isn’t exactly a hotbed of racing and never has been. The idea has been met with criticism from South Boston and its’ Seaport community. It’s really no surprise though. The South Boston neighborhood was one of the main proponents of blocking the 2024 Olympics. The area hasn’t always welcomed new ideas like this with open arms.
2016 IndyCar Grand Prix of Boston Guide https://t.co/EHDYlihkXA
— Gary Kelley (@glkelley) March 28, 2016
But can you really blame the residents of South Boston? They have witnessed one of the most drastic transformations of a neighborhood in American history. Gone are the days where there was dozens of kids on every street corner playing stick ball. A large majority of people who have grown up in the area left long ago. What once seemed to be an impregnable Irish American stronghold is now one of the hottest real estate and commercial markets in the country.
— Jay Kenney (@JayTKenney) April 6, 2016
Gillette isn’t even alone anymore. General Electric is moving their headquarters right down the street. The historic Pier 4 restaurant and Jimmy’s Harborside are both now gone. In their place, Jerry Remy’s and Del Frisco’s. Every single day there is a new building being planned or built in the Seaport. The Convention Center wants to grow even larger.
The neighborhood is closing in from all directions. Bigger buildings, larger events, and more change. Naturally, there is a push back.
With many residents beginning to raise concern about the race, City Councillor and former Mayoral candidate Michael Flaherty announced today that he may introduce a resolution to block the race completely.
Flaherty: If IndyCar doesn't start reaching out, he'll introduce resolution against race #bospoli
— Adam Gaffin (@universalhub) April 6, 2016
Community groups like the Seaport Lofts Condominium Association have called for the cancellation of the event because the planning held no transparency, “The complete lack of public process and continuingly being ignored by the Boston Grand Prix event organizers has forced us to do our due diligence including a legal analysis of the event.” Groups also claim that there is hazard because of a lack of a review on the races’ adverse impacts to the environment. Residents also raise concern about noise, traffic, safety, and general pollution because of the race.
One of the examples of Grand Prix failure comes from Baltimore. That city did not end up completing their five year contract with IndyCar due to issues with revenue. Not as much money was generated as they had expected. Baltimore Racing Development ended up $3 million in debt, and owed over $1 million in taxes to the city.
— No IndyCar Boston (@nobostonindycar) January 29, 2016
With worry of potential cost overruns and revenue loss, The Grand Prix brings much skepticism to the residents that will be most impacted by the races’ construction and deconstruction. Several streets will have to be paved and medians will have to be removed in the weeks prior. Traffic in the area will likely be affected in an area already under constant construction.
It’s IndyCar’s move now. The city wants to clear the air before they commit to the race. Michael Flaherty is doing the right thing by representing his constituents and covering all bases before issuing permits.
Zero donations to South Boston charities. Zero. https://t.co/GG51y1OpdA
— No IndyCar Boston (@nobostonindycar) April 5, 2016
Will IndyCar become yet another failed project like Boston 2024? Only time will tell.