INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 31, 2011) – Baltimore is a large Maryland city rich in history. When the Second Continental Congress convened in December 1776, the city essentially served as our country’s capital for the next three months. In addition, Baltimore’s geographic location placed the city in the middle of both the American Revolution and the Civil War.
When the IZOD IndyCar Series teams, including the No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins Dallara/Honda/Firestone team of Sam Schmidt Motorsports (SSM), line up for the playing of the national anthem for Sunday’s Baltimore Grand Prix, they will be standing next to the harbor where attorney Francis Scott Key sat on a ship and wrote the poem that went on to become the “Star Spangled Banner.”
Obviously, few cities on the IndyCar Series tour hold more significant history than Baltimore. This fact isn’t lost on Alex Tagliani, driver of SSM’s No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins car. However, Tagliani is also hoping to create a little history of his own as he looks to jump start a season that started with much hope in St. Petersburg, Fla., in March.
This weekend’s Baltimore Grand Prix is on a temporary street circuit. With 12 turns, the 2.4-mile track was built by converting streets and roads in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor neighborhood into a modern IndyCar track. Street courses like this reward aggressive drivers who like to attack a circuit, not just the other racers.
In the first two street races of the season – St. Petersburg and Long Beach, Calif. – Tagliani finished sixth and fifth, respectively. This street style of racing, like the fans will see in Baltimore, suits Tagliani’s style.
Being the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix, a new chapter in IndyCar history begins Sunday and Tagliani is looking to play an important role.
Alex Tagliani, Driver of the No. 77 B&W Dallara/Honda/Firestone for Sam Schmidt Motorsports:
What is on a driver’s mental checklist when he or she goes to a new circuit to race for the first time?
“Obviously, the track walk on Thursday is very important. As you walk the course, especially in the corners, you look for similarities with other racetracks so you can use that track’s data as a starting point. On the walk, you are also looking at the track surface and locating bumps. So, walking the track helps clear that checklist. ”
What do you like about going to a circuit that’s new to everyone in the paddock?
“The commercial aspect, for one, is exciting. The fact you are going to a new city, and it’s a street course, is always attractive to me. A new circuit adds some challenges, but the beauty of having a street course is always nice. IndyCar racing has so many different types of tracks, like street courses, road courses, mile ovals and superspeedways. All these types of tracks are so different that, when you show up to a venue that is new in IndyCar’s portfolio, it is a good thing.”
The team has struggled a little bit the last few races. What are your goals for the weekend?
“Each weekend, we as a team have tried to make the most out of each situation. Mid-Ohio was a good finish, but in Sonoma we struggled more. We could never get the set-up right. So, going into Baltimore, hopefully we’ll be able to find the set-up and get ourselves where we need to be.”