If you're thinking about going to the Grand Prix of Baltimore, here are some things to keep in mind:
When can I see racing this weekend? Beginning at 8 a.m. each day, Friday-Sunday, cars will be zipping around the Inner Harbor for practice sessions, qualifying and races. Gates open at 7:30 a.m. There is pretty much something to do or see from 8 a.m. until sundown around the course.
Who should we watch? Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon are the top two IndyCar series points leaders, with last year's Grand Prix of Baltimore winner, Ryan Hunter-Reay, in third. If you're a fan of the Andretti family, Marco Andretti is No. 4 in points, and is looking for his first win of the season. If you're into sibling rivalries, Stefan Wilson will make his IndyCar Series debut in Baltimore, and it will mark the first time that brothers will race against each other as teammates. Wilson will be in the No. 18 Boy Scouts of America car for Dale Coyne Racing, while older brother Justin will be in the No. 19 car.
What will it cost to get in? General admission is $5-$65. Reserved seating is $30-$185. More elaborate packages range up to $750. For details, go to grandprixofbaltimore.com
How should we get downtown? It is strongly suggested that you take public transportation, as some streets will be closed for the races. Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) is offering a commemorative MTA Grand Prix transit pass for unlimited travel during the race weekend for $10. You can travel on MTA Local Bus, Metro Subway and Light Rail system to all Grand Prix of events. Parking is at a premium around the track and prices range from $8 to $30 depending on proximity to the track. Parking is available through Parking Panda and may be purchased with tickets at MissionTix.com.
What are the different levels of racing? Izod Indy Car Series is the top level, with the Indy Lights Series, American Le Mans and IMSA GT3 also competing.
The Indy Car Series is the high-speed, open-wheel racing series. The race starts at 2:40 p.m. Sunday, with practices Friday and Saturday, and qualifying Saturday at noon.
Firestone Indy Lights Series is where developing drivers compete to become a part of the Indy Car Series. The race is at 12:35 p.m. Sunday.
American Le Mans will give race fans the chance to see Vipers, Porsches, Ferraris and more race. The race is at 3:45 p.m. Saturday.
IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge is new for this year's weekend. 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.
What's the most important item to bring to the event? Ear plugs. That's not an aesthetic judgment of any sort – simply health advice. These cars generate enough sound to be heard miles away.
What else is there to do besides watch racing? Live, the band from York, Pa., 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.
Are there places to eat? 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.
Is a trip to the paddock worth it? 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.
What can I bring into the race? Sunscreen, cameras, video camcorders for personal use, ponchos, seat cushions, small bags (purses, diaper bags, camera bags) and other bags are allowed and will be subject to search before entering the gates. Small umbrellas will be permitted, but must remain closed while in the grandstands. Baby strollers will be allowed in the gates, but due to size limitations, may not be allowed in the grandstands. Outside food and beverage are not permitted with the exception of one 20-ounce or smaller unopened non-alcoholic beverage per person, or food and drink necessary for young children or medical purposes.
Other prohibited items include, but are not limited to: Alcoholic beverages, beach balls, bicycles, cans, chairs, coolers and containers larger than 12-inch X 12-inch X 12-inch, fireworks, Frisbees or other projectiles, glass bottles or containers, hard-sided coolers, illegal substances, ladders/stepstools, large umbrellas, lawn furniture, noisemakers, pets (with the exception of disability assistance animals), scaffolding, scooters (with the exception of mobility aids), skateboards, skates/rollerblades, tents/EZ-Ups, wagons and weapons or firearms of any kind.