Reporting Meghan McCorkell
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s the start of a long road. Downtown construction begins Monday night for the Baltimore Grand Prix. The race is set for Labor Day weekend.
Meghan McCorkell has the latest on the preparations.
Crews are already working on Conway Street. Organizers say they are trying to keep traffic headaches to a minimum, with most of the construction happening at night.
The need for speed starts with a crawl. Construction for the Baltimore Grand Prix is underway.
“Last year, it took about 45 days to build the racetrack. We’ve actually crunched that down to 30 days,” said General Manager Tim Mayer.
Twenty-two million pounds of concrete block, five miles of fencing and 2,200 metal panels all need to go in.
“Last weekend alone with the conventions, it was busy enough. Having this coming up is going to make it really hectic,” said Gavin Meyers, who lives downtown.
“It’s impossible to get in and out of the garages. We live a block away and there’s only one entrance and one exit. So it really is a mess getting in and out,” said Melissa Carroll, who also lives on the race route.
Organizers plan to build the race course in sections. The busiest intersections will be saved for last.
The race is under new management that’s trying to make it more friendly for drivers and area businesses. One big change: the cars will cross the finish line a little earlier this year. Races will end around 6:30 p.m. to push crowds to eat out at local restaurants—something that didn’t happen last year.
“We are all hopeful that this year it will have a greater impact, positive impact, on our business,” said Lisa Morekas, Sabatino’s.
Drivers hope Baltimore remains a fixture on the Indycar schedule.
“The streets of Baltimore have provided the most difficult circuit for us to try and race around. Half the track is really bumpy, and half the track is really smooth,” said Indycar driver Josef Newgarden.
The westbound lanes of Conway Street between Light and Howard will be shut down from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. every night this week.
Organizers have not announced the specific street closure schedule for race week.