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Baltimore Prepares For Grand Prix

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Grand Prix
Derek Valcourt 370x278 Derek Valcourt
Derek Valcourt began working at WJZ in September 2002. His first major...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The race is on. It’s less than two weeks until drivers start their engines for the Grand Prix of Baltimore.

Derek Valcourt has more as the city gets ready for the big event.

A Porsche near the Inner Harbor was there to help drum up some excitement for the upcoming Grand Prix of Baltimore, and it seems to be working.

“I do love racing,” said one.

Kids heard firsthand from racing stars like Bryan Sellers and Spencer Pumpelly, who are thrilled to be back revving their engines in Baltimore.

“Usually when the people wanna go see racing, they have to go to some countryside race track. Here, we bring the racing right downtown, right in the population center,” Pumpelly said.

“It’s just a cool place to be,” Sellers said.

Selllers and his Falken Tire Porsche are back for a two hour and 45 minute race. Since sports car drivers are only allowed to do a maximum of two hours and 15 minutes behind the wheel, changing out the drivers is key and it’s gotta happen fast.

“Which means you need to be belted in and ready to go by the time the car drops, so our driver change takes a total of 10 to 12 seconds,” Sellers said.

And that’s not easy. After a quick lesson, it was Valcourt’s turn. For an amateur, the change out takes 23 seconds.

But minor changes to Baltimore’s track will make it easier for drivers to pass each other. This year, the races are ending earlier in the day to help support local businesses.

“When you’re done at 6 or 7 o’clock in the evening, people are thinking, `I’m going to dinner.’ When you’re done at 10 or 11 o’clock at night, as happened last year, they’re thinking, `I’m going to bed.’ So we’re really making sure that the businesses here have the opportunity to enjoy the benefit of the race,” said General Manager Tim Mayer.

Another change this year: organizers are promising it will be easier for people to get around downtown during the race.

The race is expected to bring millions of dollars into downtown Baltimore.

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