The 2011 American Le Mans Baltimore Grand Prix

Want to watch quality motorsports programming? Well, usually it costs about an arm, and you’ll get an hour of NASCAR. However, throw a leg in, and you’ll get two hours. Luckily, a few Sundays ago ABC covered and broadcast the 2011 ALMS Baltimore GP race hosted at Baltimore, Maryland. That means that watching this race was free - don’t worry, you can keep your arms and legs.
ALMS is short for “American Le Mans”, and is essentially action-packed racing across a tight selection of car manufacturers, divided into four classes - GTE-Pro and GTE-Am, along with LMP1 and LMP2. “LMP” stands for “Le Mans Prototype”. Le Mans Prototypes are closed-wheel cars with looks, performance, and maintenance prices comparable to Formula One. Ranging from Corvette to Ferrari, these manufacturers are pitted against one another in highly modified, stripped out (meaning the interior comforts are entirely removed to save weight), roaring, racing machines, piloted by some of the best drivers from many nations.
To try and put the fantastic, blood-pumping experience of watching this race (and series) into perspective, it’d be significantly beneficial to say that this race was held in Baltimore - Yes, that was already mentioned, but it wasn’t held on a race track. You see, this epic battle was held on the very streets of downtown Baltimore, so if you had watched the race you’d see that these cars were zipping past streetlights, stop signs, and maybe even your local coffee shop. The way the organizers managed to do this was by going through a lengthy process beforehand of closing off certain parts of the city and placing large, heavy barriers all around the race course in order to direct how the course is set out and where the drivers can go - complete with many overtaking opportunities encompassing long straights, sharp hairpin turns, wide turns, and even s-turns.
There were some intense moments during the race. At one point, in the middle of an already intense race, the rising tension was disturbed when a persistent BMW GT car was in the process of taking the correct racing line, and out of nowhere, professional driver Tommy Milner’s C6.R Compuware Corvette dove directly into the corner, without having exercised enough caution toward the BMW nearby, knocked into the BMW’s left side and sent the beautiful BMW GT car into a complete 180, leaving the frustrated - for lack of more accurate, less appropriate words - BMW driver facing traffic, as well as a large disadvantage in catching up. Fortunately, Corvette driver Tommy Milner got what was coming to him as he executed the same maneuver once again on another unsuspecting racer, and received a one-minute penalty as a result, effectively putting Milner a little more than an entire lap behind in the race.
Another more or less fascinating and thought-provoking occurrence was when one of the Prototype Le Mans cars had created so much down force, that, at one of the tighter turns in the track, actually made enough physical contact with the edge of a manhole cover to break it off, sending the manhole cover sliding across the track into the wall nearby. Soon a safety car was on the track to restrict overtaking and to give the repair crew more time to fix the issue. Shortly after, the repair crew closed the dangerous section of the corner off, welded the manhole cover back on, and the race was once again put into full swing as the safety car pulled off of the track.
Along with these incidents, the entire race in itself was definitely a sight to see - whether on TV, the internet, or in person. There’s no doubt it would’ve been much more exhilarating in person, and if you ever get an opportunity to watch one, especially if you’re a car enthusiast, you have no choice but to go.



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