NewsPinellas County


Fans flock to St. Pete to watch final races at Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Final day for Grand Prix in St. Pete
Posted at 1:18 PM, Mar 10, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Three action-packed days of racing ended Sunday with thousands of happy fans enjoying a sunny and beautiful day.

St. Petersburg has hosted the first IndyCar race of the year for the past nine years.

ABC Action News reporter Michael Paluska spoke to Will Power who won his record eight pole position. Power said he feels confident and relaxed for the race following a win last year at the Indy 500.

Fans and organizers said the location of the track surrounded by all that St. Pete has to offer can’t be matched.

The streets of downtown St. Pete transformed into a 1.8-mile, 14-turn (5 lefts, nine rights) racetrack with a great waterfront view. Even a section of the runway at Albert Whitted Airport will be used for the race.

The IndyCars sped past iconic buildings like the Mahaffey Theater and Dali Museum at speeds of nearly 200 miles per hour.

“Every time I see it on the schedule it’s like, yes, let's go,” Carlos Pineros said. “It has gone crazy man it has grown I can see a lot of fans I like to see that there track it stays the same, but they are adding things, so fans have more things to do.”

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 five years, making it a promising weekend for shop and restaurant owners in the downtown corridor.

All statistics aside fans said it is just a great time for everyone.

“(I was) just ten years old my first 500 I never stop smiling the whole weekend,” Gary Lorenz said.