NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The New Haven Grand Prix returned on Friday for its sixth year.

The race, taking place in the downtown area, was not held in the last two years due to the pandemic.

The riders ground it out in high gear racing through the green the Yale Campus and parts of downtown Friday night.

“We’ve got a really active cycling community,” New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said. “It’s entertainment in music, it’s youth activities and it’s pizza. You can’t go wrong with all those, right?”

Cyclists reached up to 40 mph during the event, which will also include a block party-like street festival, a beer garden and live music.

Crowds gathered to cheer on the cyclists Friday night as racers sped by at high speeds, elbow to elbow, hip to hip as they weed through the downtown.

“Cheering on the human spirit and letting them know that despite of what’s going on in the world and Ukraine and Europe and all over the country, it’s right here where there is happiness and joyfulness. I believe that if we can put a smile on somebody’s face, why not we can encourage others,” said Carolyn Huckabey.

Some of the attendees have never missed a Grand Prix race before. When they heard the Grand Prix was back this year, they got to the race extra early to get front row spots.

“I missed it last year due to the pandemic and it’s back again, this is my first time taking a race in New Haven,” shared Aiden Xue.

Several streets were shut down in preparation for the race. College Street closed at noon Friday, with parts of Chapel, Temple, Elm and High streets closing at 2:30 p.m.

The event takes place from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Proceeds will benefit the Connecticut Cycling Advancement Program, a nonprofit that creates youth cycling teams.