Preparation for one of the largest events ever to come to downtown Baltimore took another big step on July 25, when cornerstone track walls were set up in front of the Inner Harbor Amphitheater for the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix.
The work signals the first segment of construction of the 2.0 mile, 13-turn street circuit that races around Camden Yards and the Scenic Inner Harbor in downtown Baltimore. Jay Davidson, president and CEO of the Baltimore Grand Prix, as well as Martyn Thake, the circuit designer and director of operations, along with the staff of the Baltimore Grand Prix were on hand for the ceremonial event.
"This is an exciting day for the Baltimore Grand Prix," said Davidson. "All of the years of planning are now truly coming to fruition before our eyes. This event also brings home the fact that in 40 days, there will be thousands of fans lining these streets to see the spectacular sight of racecars going 180 miles per hour down Pratt Street so Martyn and his crew definitely have their work lined out."
More than 2,200, 12-foot long, 39-inch cement race walls will line the perimeter inside and outside the race circuit. In addition to the concrete race walls and fencing, portions of the circuit are lined with tire barriers to soften any potential impact. Strategically placed around the two-mile circuit there will be 650 tire pallets which consist of 25 bundled, interlocked tires.
During the next 40 days leading up to the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix Sept. 2-4, crews will construct a debris fence purpose built for motor racing that will adorn the top of the wall segments. The debris fencing will encompass the entire 2-mile street course and additional fencing will be built behind the race walls to create what is called in racing "no man's land", a restricted area between the spectator areas and the racing circuit. Work will be done between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. to avoid peak drive times.
Thake, who has overseen construction on street and temporary circuits in Denver, Mexico City and Houston, among many others, said that this track has a little bit of everything for both the spectators and the competitors.
"This may be the best racetrack I have ever been a part of and, with the Harbor and Camden Yards anchoring the site, it will be one of the best looking street tracks," said Thayke. "There will also be several opportunities for passing, due to the wide streets and long straightaways and plenty of places for the fans to see all the action. Baltimore is joining a very select and exclusive club as one of only about 15 cities in the world that host a street race and this circuit is really going to look fabulous on TV."
In addition to the racing circuit, construction crews will begin work on ancillary projects for the race weekend such as grandstands, hospitality tents and pedestrian bridges.
The removal of the track and other areas will begin immediately after the conclusion of the race on Sept. 4 and will take close to 30 days to be completely disassembled.