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Shifting Into High Gear: Last-Minute Preps Underway For Grand Prix Of Baltimore

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- It's just hours until IndyCar racing roars through downtown Baltimore streets. Organizers are accelerating the last-minute preparations to get ready for three days of racing.

Kai Jackson has more.

The race course for the Grand Prix of Baltimore is slowly taking shape, while Maryland drivers are being reminded of road closures that will last while the event is in town.

"It's a lot better as the years go on," a driver said.

Portions of Howard, Pratt, Conway, Sharp, Camden, Eutaw and Calvert Streets will be closed because of the race. Bus service, light rail and the Charm City Circulator will also be affected.

"We do know that it's inconvenient for certain people, and we're really trying to minimize that impact," said Tim Mayer, Grand Prix of Baltimore.

"In the last 24 hours of the race, preparation for the race, we have to build about 20 percent of the racetrack. The good news for us is we're four or five hours ahead of our schedule now," said a Grand Prix official.

There is a lot still to do, though: finish the concert stage, set up vendor tents and install fencing and barriers.

Crews will be working through the night to finish setting up for the event, some working up until the last second at 8 a.m, when the race starts on Friday.

Indy champ Helio Castroneves is ready to go.  He finished in the top 10 last year.

"And hopefully, I will be able to finish in the top three, and that will be one of my favorite tracks," he said.

While the race's future in Baltimore may be uncertain, a Grand Prix champion says it's clear to him that his partnership with a local cancer group is a winning combination.

The Ulman Cancer Fund, along with Ryan Hunter-Reay and his charity, gathered at Pazo Restaurant Thursday with the goal of helping those affected by cancer. Family members say the fight against cancer is a race against time.

"My mother could have defeated colon cancer had she just got it a couple months before. She knew something was wrong, she didn't go to the doctor. And by the time they got it, it was too late," Hunter-Reay said.

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman says the Ulman Cancer Fund started because his younger brother, who had cancer, couldn't find support services for young people.

"We got around the kitchen table and we created a nonprofit to provide support services for young adult cancer survivors," Ulman said.

Ken Ulman's brother survived cancer and is doing fine now.

"My mother just recovered from breast cancer, so it was pretty heartfelt for me to come here," said Kelsey Jones, photographer.

The length of the Grand Prix course is two miles long.

For a full list of road closures and detours, click here.

As of 6 a.m. Tuesday, officials plan on having all the roadways back open again.  It will take about 10 days for crews to completely tear everything down.

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