The most important man at the Firestone Grand Prix and he's not an Indy car driver

Posted at 5:38 PM, Mar 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-09 17:38:14-05

When you hear about the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, it's hard to know how much really goes into the event. Well, let's take a look at a few numbers. There is nearly two miles of street course, 14 turns, drivers will travel 110 laps for 198 miles.

But what happens before the Grand Prix?  

More than 1,200 people have to build the track, get things ready, logistically get the city ready for an event that is once again expecting record attendance.

One of those people and quite possibly the most important man working with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is Tony Leno. His official title is Manager of Event Recruitment and Management for the City of St. Petersburg. If you watch him for one day, his unofficial title should probably be something like "Coordinator of Chaos!"

"They said they needed somebody to keep track of this chaos," said Leno. "I guess that's what I do...I'm the chaos guy. So I raised my hand to volunteer and have been doing it ever since."

He volunteered 15 years ago and has been doing the same job, in addition to his day job with the city, ever since.

He's too modest to tell you, but even organizers with the race say he is the reason is goes off with a well-oiled machine.

The man with the plan really only has one rule.

"Leave the city the way you found it. It's respectful. We do more than 100 events on the water front and we ask hosts to do the same thing," says Leno.

And when we asked him if he thought the race could happen without him?

"It always gets done...I guess you want me to say that it would be better because I'm doing it... I don't," Leno said.

The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg airs on ABC Action News Sunday. Coverage starts at noon.   



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