|Grand Prix Has Downtown Baltimore Buzzing|
By Danielle Chazen
The incredible speeds and piercing screeches as drivers execute cutting turns on the streets of Baltimore have the crowd at the Baltimore Grand Prix completely enthralled by the excitement. Small children, attending their first-ever races, are equipped with ear protection and press their noses up to the silver bars of the course's protective catch fences. The atmosphere in downtown Baltimore is simply infectious.
"I actually can't believe this is really happening," said Fatiha El-frih, a checkered flag girl. "Anything they do in Baltimore that is good for the city, I try to support in any way I can. I love this city. I've lived in four continents, but Baltimore is my home. I would do anything for this city and being a checkered flag girl has allowed me to show my support."
Baltimore residents Randall William Paschke Jr. and Jonathan Mayne, who serve in the U.S. Army, were decked out in Sunoco insignia stickers and described attending the grand prix as "a once in a lifetime opportunity that hits home in the full sense of the word."
Paschke and Mayne said the grand prix served as one of their last stops and memories of Baltimore before they are deployed in October to Iraq and Afghanistan, respectively.
"This is an unbelievable event to celebrate Baltimore and a perfect expression of our freedom as Americans," Mayne said. "We love fast cars, so we're having a fantastic time just watching the race and meeting a lot of great people."
City resident Charles Cook said the Grand Prix was giving Baltimore a much-needed facelift.
"This city is beautiful, but this race will add a lot to it," he said. "This event is extremely exciting and will do Baltimore a lot of good and I think Baltimore really needs it right now."
"The way to describe this event is just 'wow'," Baltimore native Al Freeman said. "To see the excitement and feel the suspense of the drivers and cars is amazing. It's great for the city and the state."
William Copland said the grand prix had been generating more fun for the area and its people and more revenue for the city.
"I travel all over locally for drag racing, but it's nice that this event is closer to home," Copland said. "To see the city change into an atmosphere that's welcoming racing is different, and it’s definitely fun."
Michael Nabutovsky, a 20-year-old from Pikesville, said the Baltimore Grand Prix was his first-ever race and the experience had been fascinating.
"I've always been a fan of racing," Nabutovsky said. "I love BMW and I'm here to support them. There's a lot of events, a lot of emotion going on and I'm happy to be here and meet more people. Being from Baltimore, this race means a lot to me."
The weekend-long festival is just beginning. Stay tuned to PressBoxOnline.com for more.
Posted Sept. 2, 2011