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Grand Prix Revs Up Baltimore Racing Fans

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McCorkel Meghan 370x278 (2) Meghan McCorkell
Meghan McCorkell joined the Eyewitness News team in July 2011 as a...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Start your engines! The Baltimore Grand Prix officially kicks off Friday. Downtown is now transformed into a racetrack.

Meghan McCorkell has the latest from the middle of the track, where drivers are already gearing up.

Hard to believe, but Friday race cars will be flying down the streets of Baltimore. Fans are already coming out to get a peek at their favorite drivers.

Every one of them is hoping for their chance at the checkered flag. Racing fans are revved up and ready to go for Baltimore’s Grand Prix.

“First time I’ve ever seen it up close and personal, so I’m very excited,” racing fan Leslie Coleman said.

“We’ve been to road courses, but this is the first street course,” said John Morris, another racing fan.

Pit crews are preparing for cars to hit the streets. Friday, drivers got a first look at the track.

“It could be bumpy,” Grand Prix Driver Patrick Long said. “It could be challenging, the walls are very close.”

“No one’s ever been here,” Ed Carpenter, a driver in the Grand Prix, said. “I mean, they’re still finishing the track today. So, it’s going to be an exciting day tomorrow.”

“You want to be competitive. You want to be fast. And go the distance,” said Indy Car driver Willy T. Ribbs.

A virtual simulation shows just how fast the track is. But for commuters Thursday, the festival of speed was a whole lot of stop.

“It’s taken about 20 minutes to go just about two blocks,” commuter Shay Ingbert said. “Not a big fan of the Grand Prix.”

“Very, very frustrated already,” another commuter said.

“Yeah, I’m not sure if I’m going to come in tomorrow yet. I might turn around,” said another.

Several bus routes are also being rerouted.

With major arteries like Pratt Street closed down, the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) is telling people to take Metro to work on Friday.

Mike Evitts with the Downtown Partnership in Baltimore says the inconvenience is worth it.

“The benefit to downtown’s reputation and its image and the exposure we’re going to get internationally is in the millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars,” he said.

The Indy cars will be on the track Friday practicing for Sunday’s big race.

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