Downtown Baltimore Just Days Away From Hosting The Grand Prix

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—The first races in the Baltimore Grand Prix are just four days away. Each day the area downtown gets locked down a little more.

Mike Schuh has more on what’s going on.

These temporary barriers have been up for a couple of weeks, but now, as rubber is about ready to meet the road, those who live and work downtown are learning about a phrase they may have never heard of before. It is “the pay line.”

Those wiring the course for the Jumbotron and the 29 TV cameras have already landed and are hard at work. The shiny transporters bringing the race cars here are arriving all part of the plan that will continually restrict access to the core of downtown.

Detour. Closed. The words needed to make a race of this caliber happen.

“I’m going to start riding my bike tomorrow through the Inner Harbor,” said Megan O’Leary, who works downtown. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it through there. We were all talking about this.”

At a tavern right on the start/finish line, a place where those setting up TV coverage of the race are already spending money, local customers are talking about the race.

“I think it’s good,” said Tracy Silwick, who works downtown. “A lot of people I talk with are excited and I think it’s good to have the race come to town and us be associated with something that’s not negative.”

They’re also learning about the term, “the pay line.” It’s the point, beyond which, you will have had to have paid to get close to the track or inside the infield of the race course.

The Ale House is on the start/finish line, but outside the pay line. It’s a perfect business combination.

Greg Keating, of Pratt Street Ale House, says he’s preparing for “a lot of people and try to keep up and give them great service all weekend long.”

They’ve ordered extra food to keep up. But other traditional businesses are closing a day early.

In fact, once the course is locked down, some employees are going to have to be credentialed just to get inside the pay line to get to work. Troubles for sure, but it’s hoped businesses will take it in stride.

“They’re a little more inconvenienced by it, but I hope they’ll recognize something big and noteworthy happening down town,” said Kriby Flowler, Downtown Partnership.

Remember, this is a temporary race course. The drivers have never been around it at speed. That means that on Friday they’ll use as much time as they can during the practice sessions to blaze around the course to get it committed to memory so when the green flag drops in their race, they can circuit the course as quickly as possible.

Once the Orioles game lets out on Thursday night, many of the road closures will go into effect so the racers can get practice time on the course on Friday.

More from Mike Schuh
  • M

    I am glad I only go into the city once in a while.

  • mayor lost my vote

    I know all the electricity is on in downtown Baltimore for this race. Ours have been out since Saturday night. All my food has spoiled, my sump pump has backed up and I been cleaning water in my basement everyday. The mayor and the city could care less. They’re all worried about the grand prix.

  • whatnow

    Oh it is just a joy to work downtown and take half the day getting to work and I am so happy knowing that tomorrow will be even worse. But bet your bottom dollar, the politicians will still be wanting to raise your taxes because they are broke no matter how much money they claim this race is bringing in.

  • Gerry

    I hope these folks don’t text while they are in the drivers seat.

    • Tom

      You aren’t funny.

      • Gerry

        Being one who has been nearly run over at least a dozen times by people driving with electronic devices in their hands, and being nearly driven off the road by the same on too many occasions, and witnessing a serious accident caused by someone texting who nonchalantly drove away completely unaware of their having caused the accident, I was making a light-hearted plea for the same thing the drivers of the Grand Prix do, that is, to drive safely. The signs are out from the Grand Prix people that they are all for ticketing of bad drivers. Race car drivers have an unusual skill at driving cars in extremely tense scenarios, but they do not advocate unsafe driving. Neither do I. Safe driving, indeed, is a very serious matter, but it can be approached with a little irony which forces people to think about those habits which contribute to unsafe driving conditions.

  • Sarah El Idrissi

    How many robberies do you think will occur during this catastrophe? We can’t even have 4th of July fireworks amongst ourselves without someone getting stabbed up and toddlers getting shot, and they’re INVITING people in to downtown? Brilliant.

  • Tom

    Yep, let’s make the already bad Baltimore traffic, worse.

  • Fed up

    I know many local businesses have to close because of this event. Minor inconvenience? Whatever…its a BIG INCONVENIENCE! I guess its ok for the smaller businesses to loose thousands over the weekend. Way to go Baltimore….plus the traffic is a nightmare. Good thing I don’t live in the city any longer, but I gotta work down there…but guess what? I have the weekend off…why? cuz I won’t be able to park in Fed Hill…and lets see how many incidents happen this weekend.

  • mike spencer

    The Grand Prix was planned long before Irene decided to visit Maryland. Politicians are quite powerful, but they are not in charge of the weather. This event will put Baltimore on the map, bring in lot of revenue and hopefully after this, nobody here in Tasmania will ask me again:” Where’s Baltimore!”

  • Majiik

    Is there a bus that drops idiots off in Baltimore from other cities? Try living near pimlico during the preakness, try getting from northeast Baltimore to west Baltimore during a cop funeral, etc. We get the opportunity to make the world stage for something other than murder…. and folks are still only concerned about themselves. In a city of millions what makes you so important. How pathetic. And I would not be surprised if some of those complaining drive to DC everyday and sit for hours on 495, to and from work.
    It’s only three days, by Monday the sound of engines, loudspeakers, and fans cheering will be relplaced by gun shots and police sirens. Happy now!!!

  • Paul

    This is going to be a fun weekend!! I’m so happy an event of the size and stature is coming to my city. This puts Baltimore in the spotlight of an international stage. Can’t wait to hear the fist cars fire up Friday!

  • Dana

    I agree that this a fantastic opportunity for our city to get some positive recognition and to generate what should be ‘record breaking’ revenue. I just shudder to think where the revenue will go. Wll it REALLY create NEW jobs? Will it really trickle into the communities to assist with educational/social needs? Will it really assist in making “urban” Baltimore a safer, cleaner, better Baltimore? If any of this holds true….Kudos and if not, as usual…shame on us!!ijs

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