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Commute Anything But Speedy As Grand Prix Begins

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Get ready for gridlock.  If you’re planning to be anywhere near downtown Baltimore Friday or at all this weekend, you’ve got a big headache waiting for you.

It’s all because of the Baltimore Grand Prix.

Monique Griego explains the traffic troubles.

The slogan for the Baltimore Grand Prix is “a three-day festival of speed.”  But because of several street closures, the commute is anything but speedy.

Pratt and Conway Streets are just two of the many streets shut down to make way for the race track. Several bus routes are also being re-routed.

“There’s more stops than go.  I’m wasting a lot of gas just sitting here,” said a commuter.

“It’s absolutely insane down here. Absolutely insane,” said another.

A virtual simulation shows just how fast race cars will go, with speeds approaching 200 miles an hour.

“It could be bumpy.  It could be challenging.  The walls are very close, so the margin of error is low,” said Patrick Long, driver.

“Street racing is really physical.  It’s not like running on an oval.  You see those stock car guys in Nascar. They can eat a ham sandwich and drive around there,” said Willy T. Ribbs, driver.

The 12-turn track highlights two Baltimore landmarks: the Inner Harbor and Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Along the track there is no banking, making every turn more difficult.

“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,” said Mike Evitts, Downtown Partnership.

Still, the city is split on whether the Grand Prix is a good idea.

“Very, very frustrated already,” said one person.

The first practice runs are set to begin early Friday afternoon. 

Meanwhile, if you’re trying to get into downtown, you’re encouraged to take public transportation, like the light rail, metro or bus. But the best advice is to leave yourself plenty of extra time.

Click here for Grand Prix traffic information.

Click here for Baltimore Grand Prix information.

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