The Grand Prix of Boston sputtered to a final stop after Mayor Martin Walsh and the head of the IndyCar circuit ruled out holding a race this fall, despite last-ditch maneuvering by the local promoter to move the course to Suffolk Downs, sources told the Herald.
Walsh, facing flak from angry race fans for the Grand Prix’s demise, issued an unusual joint statement with IndyCar boss Mark Miles promising to pursue a Boston race “in the future” — but making clear they would not work with local promoter John Casey, who abruptly canceled the event last week.
The final flurry of finger-pointing put to rest any hopes of reviving the problem-plagued race, which were fueled by Walsh’s own comments leaving the door slightly open, and rumblings that Casey was looking for another venue.
Several sources close to the Grand Prix bid said Casey was making a last-ditch attempt to hold the race at the Suffolk Downs horse racing venue in East Boston, even bringing in engineers led by Tony Cotman, who designed the course in the Seaport District.
Cotman surveyed the Suffolk Downs property but by Friday afternoon Miles slammed the door on approving a race with Casey as the lead promoter. The IndyCar chief executive officer was angered at Casey for canceling the Boston Grand Prix without even consulting him, and felt the fiasco had hurt the IndyCar sport’s brand, sources said.
“It was an adamant never,” said one source involved in the Grand Prix bid.
Even some Grand Prix investors and others involved in the race became concerned in recent weeks about Casey’s leadership and whether he really had the financial resources and sponsors he promised.
One source involved with the race bid said the move to get Suffolk Downs “may have been smoke and mirrors” to buy time to calm businesses and other investors that are moving to revoke their sponsorships and ask for their money back.
Walsh and Miles said in their statement that it was “disappointing that IndyCar will not race in Boston this year,” putting to rest speculation about trying to save it for Labor Day weekend.
“Boston has always been a great partner for IndyCar and we are confident that with a strong local promoter the race can be a great success,” the statement said.
The reference to a “strong local promoter” is a clear signal they don’t want Boston Grand Prix or Casey involved. Casey could not be reached for comment.
Casey has blamed the Walsh administration for his decision to cancel, embarrassing the mayor and leaving IndyCar with a huge opening in its 2016 race schedule.
But now it appears Casey will be responsible for paying IndyCar a $1.5-million fine for the race not taking place, making sure ticket buyers get refunds, and possibly paying back sponsors and investors millions more.