Reporting Meghan McCorkell
BALTIMORE (WJZ)—The race is on! The Grand Prix of Baltimore officially kicked off Friday, shining an international spotlight on the city. The race is bringing in people from all over the world.
Meghan McCorkell has more from day one at the track.
It was just qualifying races and practice Friday, but the crowds still showed up to see race cars tear through the streets of Baltimore.
The need for speed is back in Baltimore.
“I hope everybody’s watching because it’s going to be really exciting when the cars come,” said Santino Vaughan, age 5.
The excitement is evident all over downtown as IndyCar’s biggest stars hit the streets for a second year.
“The second time, it’s to a whole new level,” one fan said.
There was trouble Friday morning when one of the race cars went airborne after hitting the light rail tracks.
Officials installed a chicane in that area to keep it safe for the drivers.
LINK: Traffic Map
Fans got an up close look inside the world of racing.
“I get to see the cars, and I get to see the people fix the cars,” said Keyon Jefferson, age 9.
And the world is getting a look at Baltimore.
“Yet again we have the opportunity to put Baltimore on an international stage, introducing this wonderful city to millions of people from around the world,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
“This is really a Ravens game on steroids,” one fan said.
Many visitors are staying at the Marriott Waterfront right next to the racetrack.
“We’re going to sell out tonight. We actually sold out last night and very close to selling out tomorrow night,” said Onahlea Shimunek, Marriott Waterfront.
A front row seat is also available at Pratt Street Ale House.
“We’ve got the finishing straight right there, so cars are at top speed flying past,” said Jorbie Clark, Pratt Street Ale House.
Restaurants just outside the race zone are also holding special events to try and lure in race fans.
Little Italy features outdoor tables and concerts after the race, appealing to out-of-towners.
“We’re doing a little walking around because it’s just very nice down here, and it’s just fun,” said Jill Cruz, who is visiting from Virginia.
The green flag is raised for a big weekend in the city.
And of course it all ends on Sunday with the grand finale, the big IndyCar race.
Tickets are still available. You can buy tickets online by clicking here or at the gates.