Scheduling woes have the future of the Grand Prix of Baltimore looking a little shaky, so if you haven't been yet, now might be a good time to check out the "Celebration of Acceleration."
The Labor Day weekend event offers fast cars but other attractions as well. Here are 10 things to expect:
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- Auto Racing
- Open-Wheel Racing
- Dining and Drinking
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Light Street & East Pratt Street, Baltimore, MD 21202, USA
The main event of the Grand Prix, the Indy Car Series is bringing the high-speed, open-wheel racing series through the streets of Baltimore. Last year, Ryan Hunter-Reay crossed the finish line 1.44 seconds ahead of Ryan Briscoe to take the cup. This year, he comes into the race at No. 3 in the standings, behind Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon. The race is at 2:40 p.m. Sunday, with practices in the days leading up.
Firestone Indy Lights Series
In the Indy Light Series, developing drivers compete to become a part of the Izod Indy Car Series. Baltimore is the only non-conflicting road course event left in 2013 for the series. The race is at 12:35 p.m. Sunday.
American Le Mans
A spots car racing series, American Le Mans will give attendees the chance to see Vipers, Porsches, Ferraris and more race through the streets of Baltimore. The race is at 3:45 p.m. Saturday.
IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge
New for this year's Grand Prix: "the largest single-make series in North America," according to the Grand Prix's website. By that, we mean semi-pro drivers will all race in Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars. Races are at 1:40 p.m. Saturday and 11:30 a.m. Sunday.
Live looks and sounds a little different than it did in its mid-'90s heyday: Ed Kowalczyk is no longer the lead singer. But the group, which has sold more than 22 million albums, headlines the weekend's entertainment, with a performance at 6 p.m. Saturday on the main stage. Complementing Live is a lineup of local and regional music acts throughout the weekend, including DJ Prievo, The Waiting, Laughing Colors and Levi Stephens.
Food & drink
The Taste of Maryland tent will feature crab cakes, soft crab sandwiches, fried oysters, corn on the cob and other food associated with Maryland cuisine. Race attendees will see other Baltimore favorites scattered throughout the site. The Federal Hill restaurant Ryleigh's Oyster will host a raw bar and pit beef concession on McKeldin Square during the Labor Day weekend racing event. (Ryleigh's will also have a presence inside the Taste of Maryland Tent.) Germano's of Little Italy will be serving lasagna, Tuscan grilled chicken panini and Nonna's sausage on ciabatta from their booth on Camden Street, behind the Baltimore Hilton Baltimore. For drinks, stop by Southern Spirits Wine Bars or the Budweiser Party Zone.
Adults (and kids, too, of course) can replicate the fun of the Grand Prix with indoor go-karting inside the Esskay Family Fun Zone in the Baltimore Convention Center. The karts are electric, no-emission vehicles. Adult karts can top out at 50 mph, while children's karts can reach 25 mph. (Even children 6 and younger can join in the fun with Kidracers.) Races are $15. Also in the Fun Zone: a rock climbing wall, bounce houses, music and face painting.
Budweiser Party Zone
For a more grown-up brand of entertainment, this area features live music and a sports-bar feel. Set along Light Street near the main straightaway and Turns 1 and 2, the Party Zone will include radio broadcasts with 98 Rock and performances from Sly 45 and the Doyle Brothers.
In the paddock
Fans can get a closer look with paddock passes ($5-$45) that offer entry into the Baltimore Convention Center. Inside, they'll see the cars and observe the mechanics, engineers and drivers bringing the races to life.
You don't have to go to the race to take advantage of this: During race week, museums such as the American Visionary Art Museum and the Baltimore Museum of Industry and attractions including Urban Pirates and Ripley's Believe It or Not! are offering discounted or buy-one-get-one-free admission. The National Aquarium is offering seven days' admission for the price of one. Additionally, many restaurants are offering Grand Prix Fixe menus.
Richard Gorelick contributed to this article.
If you go
The Grand Prix of Baltimore runs Friday-Sunday downtown. General admission is $5-$65. Reserved seating is $30-$185. More elaborate packages range up to $750. For details, go to grandprixofbaltimore.com