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Downtown Baltimore Just Days Away From Hosting The Grand Prix

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Mike Schuh joined WJZ Eyewitness News as a general assignment reporter...
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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.

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