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Maryland Business: Does the Grand Prix encourage playing hooky?

Organizers of the Grand Prix of Baltimore — the auto race that hits downtown streets Aug. 30 through Sept. 1 — are big supporters of local students. To show their appreciation for hardworking youngsters, they’re offering discounted Friday tickets to “active students.” All-day admission will be only $5 with a valid student ID.

Baltimore Grand Prix (File photo)

Baltimore Grand Prix (File photo)

Sounds awesome. The only problem is, “active students” have school that day.

Public school systems in surrounding counties kick off the quarter Monday, Aug. 26, or later that week. Private schools are also in session by Aug. 30. Sure, everybody knows the first week of school is sort of a joke — the heavy lifting stuff starts after Labor Day. Still, there are forms to sign, schedules to learn and teachers to meet. Attendance is important — I’m sure the Grand Prix organizers would agree.

Actually, maybe I’m not so sure…

“This is the ideal day way for students to enjoy the final days of summer, before school kicks into high gear,” race General Manager Tim Mayer said in a statement. “Whether you’re an elementary school student or doing post-graduate work, this is a great opportunity to take in the sights and sounds of the Celebration of Acceleration for just $5.”

To be fair, I doubt the folks over at Andretti Sports Marketing (I’ve met them – they’re a standup bunch) are truly trying to tempt kids to cut class. Friday’s Grand Prix festivities last from 6 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. There’s plenty of time for students to, you know, be students and still make it to the racetrack. There will be a few solid hours of motorhead madness to enjoy after the dismissal bell rings, including IZOD IndyCar Series and American Le Mans Series practice runs, qualifiers for races later in the weekend, activities in the Esskay Family Fun Zone and musical performances on the main stage.

Students ages 21 and over can also access the Budweiser Party Zone, where 98 Rock will broadcast throughout the day. (Nothing like a “Bud and Bacon” party at 6 a.m. to prepare you for the school day, am I right?)

Discounted student tickets are only available in person at one of the ticket booths located outside all the entrance gates, not online.

In other Grand Prix news, organizers will hold a press conference Tuesday to provide a detailed schedule for racetrack construction, which begins next week. Word on the street (pardon the pun) says the work won’t be as disruptive as in past years. Stay tuned.

For more business news, visit the Maryland Business blog.

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