ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — IndyCar racing returns to the downtown streets of St. Petersburg next month with the 17th Annual Firestone Grand Prix.
The track build project for the temporary circuit is underway. The course includes a combination of adjacent downtown streets circling Pioneer Park, The Mahaffey Theater, Dali Museum and extending on the runways of Albert Whitted Airport which overlook the Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg Harbor and Marina.
“It’s 1.8 miles, 14 corners. They are going to go around in 60 seconds,” Kevin Savorre of Green Savorre Racing Promotions, said. “Just incredible.”
The event was re-scheduled from early March due to the pandemic and pushed back to April 23-25.
“It’s one of those (events) that gives us visibility nationally and internationally that otherwise, our city would never have,” St. Petersburg mayor Rick Kriseman said. “We are thrilled to have the race back.”
St. Pete native Sebastien Bourdais has won this race twice and is looking forward again to racing in the streets of downtown.
“It is a very challenging track,” he said. “On every street course, the slightest mistake, going inches away from walls, pushing the limits. If you make a real mistake you’re going to hit something and your day is going to be done. It’s a big concentration exercise and you have to stay focused the entire time.”
The course will lose its typical marquee spot as the IndyCar series’ season opener with the date push back, but it still has plenty to offer fans and drivers.
"They love it because I think the views are about as good as any, except Monaco,” Kriseman said. “I don’t think there is a more beautiful place to watch a race. But, it’s laid out in a way that’s really challenging for the drivers.”
The annual event normally draws upwards of 100,000 people on race day, they are limiting that number to 20,000 this year. Health and safety protocols will also be in place including temperature checks and mandatory masks and face coverings.