I am so excited, as I am every year, that the Grand Prix of St Petersburg starts today!! It runs on a 1.8 mile, 14 turn waterfront circuit right on the streets through downtown St Petersburg. How cool is that? How many cities in the world can claim that? The sound of the cars zooming around the tracks echoes the buildings and then drifts across the water where I can hear them from my house.
The 3 days of championship racing includes Verizon IndyCar Series, Madza Road to Indy, Pirelli World Challenge Championships and Robby Gordon’ SPEED Energy Stadium Super Trucks. The Verizon IndyCar Series Race has 110 laps for a distance of 198 miles as it goes around Pioneer Park, the Duke Energy Center for the Arts, The Dali Museum, onto the Albert Whitted Airport all of which overlook the Tampa Bay and the St Pete Harbor and Marina. This is the 5th year in a row that this race is the season-opening race for the Verizon IndyCar Series season.
The race brings some of the big names in car racing to St Pete including Will Power (who won last year & 2010), Marco Andretti, Helio Castroneve (who won in 2006, 2007, & 2012), Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan, Takuma Sato, Juan Pablo Montoya, Simona de Silvestro and more. The IndyCars can reach speeds up to 102 miles per hour. The event is owned and operated by Green Savoree Racing Promotions.
The crew of 250 construction workers started converting our city streets into the track about a month ago and will it take about 3 weeks to tear it down. They use 18,000 feet of steel-reinforced concrete block, 44,000 feet of chain-link fence and over 12,000 tires. My parents live in a condo building (Bayfront Tower) that is literally in the middle of the track-difficult for them to get in & out of the building but what an awesome view from the top of it!
On March 17, 2012, the city of St Petersburg dedicated a roadway to honor race car driver and city resident Dan Wheaton. Unfortunately, Dan lost his life in a racing accident at the end of 2011 in Las Vegas. Dan was the first winner of the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg.
Today the practices of the USF 2000,ProMazda, Indy Lights and Pirelli World Challenge GTS & GT and the Super Trucks start at 8 am and continue through 6:30pm. Saturday is primarily the qualifying races, autograph sessions and a few races. Sunday is the Grand Final. Please check the official website for exact times & details. http://www.gpstpete.com