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Grand Prix Of Baltimore Starts Its Engines!

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It's not the usual traffic at the Inner Harbor this weekend. Baltimore's busiest streets have turned into an IndyCar racetrack.

The Grand Prix is back, sending cars through downtown at 180 miles per hour.

Meghan McCorkell has more on the international racing event.

Thousands of people are expected in Baltimore this weekend, as the checkered flag waves once again.

Tearing down the streets. Racing's biggest names are back in Baltimore.

"It's exciting to see all the cars," a woman said.

For a third year in a row, race cars speed through downtown, bringing the sport's brightest stars and other just plain stars.

"All the historical buildings and certainly the ballpark and the accessibility for the fans is really great," actor Patrick Dempsey said.

Fans like aspiring driver Dylan Fitzgerald, whose favorite Indy Lights driver took the visor off his helmet, signed it and gave it to him.

"It's just so cool seeing these guys race, too. They're sort of like my heroes. I look up to them and I really want to race like they do," said Fitzgerald.

It's even more inspiring to see them race in our hometown.

"It's amazing because two blocks away it's just normal city life. And then you come down here and there's cars going 160 miles an hour down Pratt Street," said Ken Fitzgerald.

Tickets are still available for the big race, even right in the grandstand, where you can watch cars speed by at 180 miles per hour.

And the event is about a lot more than just fast cars.

"We've got nine different bands on five different stages doing 22 different performances," said Tim Mayer, Grand Prix of Baltimore.

Excitement is all over downtown, as Baltimore is back in the international spotlight.

The Grand Prix of Baltimore will be seen in 160 countries around the world.

Last year, the Grand Prix festival drew about 131,000 spectators.


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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