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Grand Prix issues call for 800 volunteers

Grand Prix organizers are calling for about 800 volunteers — 100 more than last year — to help plan and produce Baltimore’s three-day street race.

Rena Shanaman, director of staff operations for the 2012 Grand Prix of Baltimore, said Monday that the group already has about 250 returning volunteers signed up for the Aug. 31-Sept. 2 race.

“I have a little bit more of a head start this year,” said Shanaman, who was called in to oversee volunteers about six weeks before last year’s event.

Each volunteer will pay a $10 registration fee. The fee is the same as last year’s and is meant to reduce the number of “no-show” volunteers and will pay for benefits such as uniforms, complimentary food and beverages, parking on event days and discounted tickets and merchandise.

Volunteer positions during the race week will require at least three 6 1/2-hour shifts, while positions with responsibilities before and after the event will require at least 25 hours of service.

Volunteers must be at least 16 years old and will participate in a mandatory orientation meeting, to be held in late August, according to the event website. Even returning volunteers must attend the orientations.

“With the new team from Andretti Sports Marketing producing the event, there have been several important changes that you will need to know. You will not be issued a credential or volunteer uniform if you do not attend one of the Mandatory Orientation sessions,” according to the event website.

This year’s event will require more volunteers because of an increase in entrance gates — from five to seven— as well as the addition of two positions — ticket takers and “accessibility ambassadors” — who will help event-goers with physical disabilities navigate through the space.

Volunteers worked as ticket takers last year, but that was not planned, Shanaman said.

“So we figured let’s be honest about it up front and recognize that there’s a need there and recruit accordingly,” said Shanaman, who has overseen staff and volunteers at events around North America, including the Detroit Chevrolet Belle Isle Grand Prix.

Other volunteer functions include planning event ceremonies, distributing credentials, providing guest services, hospitality, media center, office services, track services, transportation and ushering. Applicants can find out more information and apply at

The city on May 16 approved a five-year contract with Race On LLC, which hired Andretti Sports Marketing to run the commercial and operational portions of the race.

The deal with Race On replaced an agreement with Downforce Racing LLC, which was terminated just months after the company was awarded the contract to run the race in its second year, because it failed to meet several city-imposed benchmarks.

Downforce replaced Baltimore Racing Development LLC — organizer of the 2011 race — after that group left about $12 million in accrued debt in its wake, including $1.5 million in unpaid taxes and fees.