Greater City Providence

WPRI: Providence looking to host IndyCar race

City officials led by Providence Mayor Angel Taveras have spent the past few months trying to lure IndyCar to Rhode Island’s capital city after learning the organization is considering bringing a Grand Prix race to New England. Taveras attended a race in Baltimore last Saturday as part of the effort.

When I saw the Mayor Tweet about this last week, my immediate thought was I did not like the idea. I suppose I can see the economic impact benefit, but it just doesn’t seem Providence to me, if that makes any sense.

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • No it isn’t Providence. The Red Bull soap box derby – that’s Providence. NetRoots Nation – that’s Providence. Waterfire, and all the other homegrown stuff works too.

  • I don’t think I could picture Providence filled with that much branding. My guess is it would be like the X-Games except that no one who lives in RI actually will care.

    Economically that’s actually ideal because tourism is a great export for the city.

  • Wow, that would be incredible! Seriously, I could totally see this happening. Memorial Boulevard. Main Street, Smith St by the capital, etc. All *fantastic* for an Indy course. And Indy fans would spend a good sum of money on hotels, etc… This could work; I’d love to have a part in it…

  • “No it isn’t Providence. The Red Bull soap box derby – that’s Providence. NetRoots Nation – that’s Providence. Waterfire, and all the other homegrown stuff works too.”

    I disagree, only because this is a very narrow definition of “Providence” and Rhode Island generally.

  • If they want that to happen, they better get to work on repaving those roads a little faster.

    I’d love to see Indy racing here.

  • An amusing idea, if we’re wiling to put up with it.

    The first time out it will be ruinously expensive as the city figures out how to set up and tear down a race course and handle a hundred thousand (maybe) visitors with a completely bollixed street system.

    I can see it now: pits on Kennedy Plaza. Start / finish line on Exchange Terrace behind Ambrose Burnside. Course runs from the start with a right onto Memorial Blvd and Dyer (190 mph in that section), takes a left over the Point Street Bridge up Wickenden left onto Hope , then a great plunge down Angel Street, with a scary chicane around the First Baptist Church (terrific $4000 seats — including lunch — at New Rivers) right onto Canal, left up Smith, a left to swing past the railroad station, another left down hill in front of Providence Place, and a final left onto Exchange Terrace for a sprint to the start-finish line.

    The downside… money in downtrodden Providence’ budget.

    Yes, it would be great to force repaving this way… but it might not be for the streets that really need it. For example, we’ve re-paved Kennedy Plaza about six times lately. It’s about as smart as letting the City Councilpeople control what streets get paved in their districts.

    During the support and Indy car races the city would be barricaded: on practice day… qualifying day… race day — plus set up and tear down days. Business would come to a screeching halt at Providence Place. Bars, restaurants and hotels would, of course, flourish. Residents would fume.

    Grand Prix racing (and gambling) is the national sport of Monaco, so they have years of experience at putting up with the chaos. Besides that, many drivers live there for the tax haven and easy commute to work on race day.

    This will be interesting to watch: the negotiations… the planning… the dreams…

  • There are plenty of people who would come out for this. Seekonk Speedway has a lot of locals that go watch cars drive in circles. I think it’d be great for the city, though really annoying for the residents.

    But to whoever suggested Smith St by the State House… I’m pretty sure those cars can’t make it over the raised crosswalk. 🙂

  • I’ve been to the event in Baltimore and it is an incredibly good time. The organizers are well versed in how to to deliver Indy racing events as effectively as possible, and Rhode Island’s location between Boston and New York would be a huge draw to racing and non-racing fans alike.

    Baltimore was a festive, fun atmosphere. Not saying there weren’t issues – they definitely needed better planning/communications on how to get to restaurants and shops in Fell’s Point and not just those immediately surrounding the course – but overall, it drew thousands of spectators to what would have otherwise been a vacant city when residents are out in OC squeezing in one last summer weekend.

    It’s not “Providence” enough for you? That’s exactly why it would be such an accomplishment if Taveras and race organizers can pull this off. It would expose downtown to visitors from places other than South County and Massachusetts border communities. Plus – and I say this with all due compassion to the business owners who would be inconvenienced – it’s not exactly like we have a lot of foot traffic beyond those using public transportation downtown…

    Do it!

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