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Minor Setback: Crash Causes Pileup At Grand Prix Of Baltimore

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Ileto Christie 370x278 (2) Christie Ileto
Christie Ileto joined WJZ's News Team in the fall of 2012. She was...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A massive crash kicks off the qualifying races at the Grand Prix of Baltimore. But fans say it’s all part of the sights and sounds of the weekend event.

Christie Ileto has more on the excitement swirling around IndyCar races.

Fortunately, no one was injured in the accident. But even a tricky start on the track couldn’t curb excitement in the stands.

It’s a bumpy beginning at the start line at the Grand Prix Saturday. A handful of cars finish the qualifying race before it even starts.

Officials say a vehicle in the middle of the pack collided with another race car before spinning into a wall and causing a massive pileup.

“It’s a tricky course,” said Sebastián Saavedra, IndyCar driver.

Saavedra already qualified for Sunday’s race, and is hoping to come out ahead of the pack.

“We’re going to look for the podium, of course. We want champagne, we want the big trophy,” he said.

IndyCar’s biggest stars are racing through Baltimore for a third year in a row, allowing fans a front row seat into the world of racing, while the race spotlights Baltimore to the rest of the world.

“To come to a Grand Prix style race. I’ve never been to one, so… It’s close. Why not?” said Scott Roser.

More than 22 million pounds of concrete and 3,700 feet of fencing are in place to protect spectators as drivers weave through the labyrinth-like 12 turn, two-mile course.

“I’ve liked seeing the Ferraris and all the other cars,” said Joseph Reichelt.

The race isn’t the only attraction drawing crowds. A multifaceted kid zone is scoring with families. But for many fans, it’s all about the toys racing down Pratt Street.

“I wouldn’t mind having [an IndyCar]. Can’t exactly drive them on the street, though,” Roser said.

Enjoy while you can, because the excitement drives off Sunday following the final race. And hopefully, no one will wipe out.

Event organizers say it’s still too early to tell how many tickets have been sold for the weekend event, but say it seems to be on track with last year’s numbers.

Those heading downtown are encouraged to take public transportation, as many streets downtown are closed. Tickets are still available. Click here for more information.

——

Among the drivers at the Grand Prix of Baltimore, one man stands out. That’s because he’s better known for his role in Hollywood, not on the racetrack.

Linh Bui talked to the big TV star.

Patrick Dempsey, “McDreamy” himself, is in town to take part in the Grand Prix of Baltimore. You may know him best as Dr. Shepherd on Grey’s Anatomy.

Auto racing is one of his passions. And he’s also bringing awareness to a cause close to his heart–the Dempsey Challenge–a cycling event that raises money to benefit cancer patients.

He says he’s excited to get on the track.

“This is great. I think the atmosphere of the whole event, where the track is located and with all the historical buildings and certainly the ballpark and the accessibility for the fans, is really great. And it’s good for Baltimore,” the actor said.

A four-part documentary about Dempsey’s racing career debuted this week. He says he’d love to continue acting and racing.

Dempsey arrived early Friday morning. His first impression of Baltimore, he said: “It’s very humid here.”

Dempsey is partnering with IndyCar driver Justin Wilson. Both of their cars will have decals promoting the Dempsey Challenge.

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