ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The Firestone Grand Prix has returned to St. Petersburg March 9-11 for three days of fast cars, world-class drivers and family fun.
The streets of downtown St. Pete have been transformed into a 1.8-mile, 14-turn (5 lefts, 9 rights) racetrack with a great waterfront view. Even a section of the runway at Albert Whitted Airport will be used for the race.
The first qualifying race begins at 10:45 a.m. on Friday. Races, autograph sessions, and a 5k run are scheduled for Friday, with the events wrapping up around 6 p.m.
Saturday's events run from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. and include USF2000 races, Pirelli World Challenge, Indy Lights and more.
Sunday's events begin at 8:00 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. Sunday will feature the main event, the 110 lap, Green Flag Verizon Indy Car Series race. That race will be broadcast on ABC beginning at 12:30 p.m.
Tickets are available online or at the gate for the full three days, single day tickets or paddock passes. Three-day passes start at $55 for general admission and single day tickets vary depending on the day. Reserved grandstand seats are also available for purchase.
Bayshore Dr. SE from Central Ave. to Dali Blvd. (Fifth Ave. S.)
Second Ave. S. from First to Second Streets
Bayshore Dr. SE, from Second Ave. NE to Central Ave.
First St. S. from Fifth Ave. S. (Dali Blvd.) to Eighth Ave. S.
Sixth Ave. S. from First to Second Streets
GETTING THERE/WHERE TO PARK:
Downtown Parking - Parking at Sundial (enter from Second St. between First and Second Aves. N.) or South Core (enter from First Ave. S. mid-block between First and Second Streets) will cost $5 on Friday and $15 on Saturday and Sunday.
The Beach Drive parking lots, located off of Second Ave. NE to the east of Bayshore Dr., offer $5 parking Friday, March 10, and $10 parking Saturday and Sunday.
The USF-St. Petersburg parking garage and selected lots offer the closest proximity to Gate 5 with parking available Saturday and Sunday in designated areas for $20 per vehicle. Private lots, garages and on-street parking will also be available. Motorists are encouraged to observe all posted parking regulations to avoid parking citations or vehicle relocation.
*Disabled Parking - Free disabled on-street parking is available on a first-come, first-served basis; some spaces have time limits but most are available all day. Additional disabled parking is available in city garages, at Tropicana Field lots 1 and 2, and in the USFSP parking garage.
Due to its proximity to Gate 5, the USFSP garage is recommended for those with limited mobility, while South Core is recommended for those entering Gate 1.
*Trop Park-n-Ride Shuttle - Parking is available at Tropicana Field in Lots 1 and 2 for $10, where race fans can ride a free Grand Prix shuttle to the track. The free shuttle will operate throughout race weekend, beginning March 9 from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Shuttle stops are located on the west side of 16th St., north of Fourth Ave. S. This is the same shuttle location as used for baseball. The free Tropicana Field shuttle includes dedicated wheelchair-accessible trolleys.
*Take the Trolley - The Looper Downtown Trolley and Central Avenue Trolley offer rides throughout race weekend for just 50 cents per person (exact change required) in the downtown fare zone. The Looper Trolley runs race weekend from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The Looper and Central Avenue Trolley are both wheelchair-accessible. Visit www.StPeteTrolley.com for more information and route maps.
*Motorcycle Parking - Motorcycle parking can be found on First Street between First Avenue North and First Avenue South on Saturday and Sunday. Spaces are first-come, first-served and will cost $5.
*Use Pedal Power - In addition to bike share hubs and other city bike racks located around the city, a large number of temporary bicycle racks are available outside Gate 1 and Gate 5.
*Taxi - Taxi stands are located on Second St., between Second and Fourth Aves. S. and on Sixth Ave. S. between Second and Third Streets.
Albert Whitted Park is also closed to pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Following Sunday's checkered flag, all roads and areas affected by the Grand Prix are expected to reopen by March 26, with some major roads open as early as March 12.
Airport Access - Albert Whitted Airport will be open during the weekend, with limited access via Sixth Ave. S. to USF-St. Petersburg, the Coast Guard station, and the Port of St. Petersburg. Access to Demens Landing will be restricted to Marina residents and Grand Prix ticket holders using the water taxi.
The Dali Museum and the Mahaffey Theater will be closed during Grand Prix weekend.
The grand Prix attracts 100,000 people to downtown St Pete every year and has an economic impact of $48 million, according to city leaders.
The crowds have grown 25% over the past 5 years, making it a promising weekend for shop and restaurant owners in the downtown cooridor.
The only drawback, it's noisey! You can hear car engines throughout the downtown area.
Larissa Schiefer, a bartender at Ceviche Restaurant explains, “It brings in business but at the same time it takes away business with it being so loud, but we definitely get a lot of race fans.”
Vicky Kinney, an employee at Pippa Pelure Boutique says, "More people come in, more commerce and we’re real happy and excited to see the races down here.”