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Drivers, Organizers & Racing Fans Count Down To Grand Prix

BALTIMORE (WJZ)— Celebrities, excitement and fast, fast cars. It's the eve of the Grand Prix of Baltimore, the second annual event expected to bring prestige and money into Charm City.

Meghan McCorkell has more on the preparations.

The security fences are up, the grandstand is ready to go and they just got done painting the finish line. The Grand Prix is just hours away.

Finishing touches are underway as Indy racing's biggest stars speed into Baltimore.

"I love the track. I love jumping over the railroads and you know the scene is just great," Indy Lights driver Gustavo Yacaman said.

The checkered flag is now just hours away.

IndyCar star Helio Castroneves gave us a sneak peek at the track.

"It's a unique place. It's bumpy, it's challenging. But it's fun at the same time when you get it right," he said.

Drivers were wined and dined at a charity cocktail party to kick off the race.

McCorkell: "How have the fans here in Baltimore been?"
IndyCar Driver Ryan Hunter-Reay: "The fans are outrageous. I mean last year, just awesome. First year, inaugural race, it was a homerun."

Race On Baltimore is now trying to make it a home run for the community.

This year, organizers are working harder to push race fans to local businesses and restaurants.

The race will end earlier this year, around dinner time. Restaurants, like Rocco's in Little Italy, are hoping that gives them a big bump in business.

"When they end the race, people are going to not want to have to rush home right away. We're hoping for the overflow," Rosa Gargano of Rocco's said.

Organizers also cutting down on traffic tie-ups from road closures.

"We learned from last year. We know what didn't work," said Baltimore City Councilman Bill Cole of District 11. "So we have police officers and special traffic enforcement officers strategically located this year."

LINK: Traffic Map

Now, the final countdown begins until the drivers start their engines.

The gates for the big event will open at 7:30 a.m. on Friday. You can buy tickets online by clicking here or at the gates.

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