The biggest race of the weekend here at the Grand Prix of Baltimore is well underway, and the atmosphere has been an interesting combination: the exhilaration of watching two dozen IndyCar drivers complete 75 laps at about 180 mph around the Inner Harbor, and the irritation of trying to keep dry.
After hovering low and gray all morning, the clouds finally burst at about 3 p.m., drenching tens of thousands of race fans. Those who paid top dollar for grandstand seats sheltered by an overhang were content to sit tight, but others vacated their seats and scrambled for cover.
Some restaurant owners, such as those along Pratt Street who were enjoying extra business from people stopping outside their establishments to steal track views through the wire fences, weren’t too happy about the rain.
I was finishing up a chat with Kamron “Tony” Assadi inside his restaurant, Luna Del Sea, about how the race has affected his business, when he mumbled something to the effect of, “I just hope it doesn’t rain.”
Not two minutes later, we stepped outside as the first droplets landed smack on his frowning face.
Not everyone was disappointed with the weather: Roving vendors selling umbrellas and ponchos immediately came out of the woodwork, and were downright jovial for the opportunity to peddle their wares.
The showers didn’t last long, though. After a heavy but brief downpour at about 3:15 p.m., it slowed to a drizzle, and most of the crowds reemerged. The race wasn’t in danger of being called off, because there wasn’t any lightning.
Despite the dreary weather conditions, patrons said the event has been a success overall and that the day has been just as action-packed as they’d hoped.
Joe Roselli, for instance, who trekked down from Philadelphia with his wife for the race, was watching the IndyCar Series race through the fence along Pratt Street – where you don’t need tickets. They didn’t buy passes because they weren’t sure what to expect, but they’ll purchase grandstand seats if Baltimore hosts again next year, he said.
“This is quite a sight, it really is,” he said. “Everything I’ve seen has been a positive experience so far. It’s been well done.”