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Baltimore’s First Grand Prix Considered A Success

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Derek Valcourt 370x278 Derek Valcourt
Derek Valcourt began working at WJZ in September 2002. His first major...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Celebrating a successful run. After a weekend of racing fun, the Baltimore Grand Prix is now in the books. Now crews are working to get the city back on the normal track.

Derek Valcourt takes us inside the Grand Prix breakdown.

What was a Grand Prix racecourse now gets the green light for regular traffic as city workers rush to reopen downtown streets that were closed to make room for a two and a half mile high-speed race course that brought out tens of thousands of race fans like Heather Boulanger.

“I did spend some money, yes,” Boulanger said.

She’s not alone. Early estimates indicate the Grand Prix raked in some $70 million over the weekend, much of it pumped into local hotels and restaurants, like the Pratt Street Ale House, where managers say their front row view along the race course kept the restaurant and patio packed all weekend.

“Labor Day weekend is not one we normally look forward to for us in the restaurant business downtown. This was one for the books; this was a good one,” said Greg Keating, Pratt Street Ale House.

Good for Baltimore tourism, too. Racing fans came from around the world and many, like Christie Sadiq, left with good impressions.

“First time to Baltimore. We thought it was great. The harbor is beautiful,” Sadiq said.

“As far as attendance, as far as participation, it’s one of the best events I’ve ever been to,” said Grand Prix General Manager Dale Dillon.

Dillon says Baltimore stands above other cities that have hosted similar races.

“When you go to the other events, you’re either on the edge or out of the main thrust of downtown. Here, you’re in the heart of the city and I think it contributed to the excitement and the interest and the citizens came through,” Dillon said.

Now comes the messy business of breaking down what took weeks to build up, with city crews racing to reopen downtown.

“Taking advantage of the fact that today is a holiday, not as much traffic, so we can have the roads open for tomorrow’s commute,” said Adrienne Barnes, Department of Transportation.

Officials plan a news conference for later this week to release more details on crowd estimates and the economic impact of the race.

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