ST. PETERSBURG, FL – Whether you’re an avid race fan or are just curious to see flashy Formula race cars speed through the streets of downtown St. Petersburg, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is the place to be March 9-11.
For the 14th year, St. Petersburg will transform its streets into a raceway where drivers from the Verizon
IndyCar Series, the Pirelli World Challenge and the Mazda Road to Indy ladder series will compete in 11 races over three days.
Instead of waving a checkered flag, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman will kick off the event with a flag-raising ceremony Thursday, March 8 at 10 a.m. on the northwest lawn of City Hall, 175, 5th St. N., with St. Pete resident and 2017 race winner Sebastien Bourdais in attendance. Kriseman will present Bourdais with a special champion’s memento during the opening ceremonies. Also on hand will be drivers Josef Newgarden and Helio Castroneves, this year’s honorary grand marshals of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Afterward, the streets of downtown St. Petersburg will be transformed into a scenic waterfront race course starting Friday, March 9 at 7:55 a.m. with the USF 2000 Race 1 qualifying race followed by the Pirelli World Challenge GT-GTA-GT Cup qualifying races at 10:05 a.m.
Also on tap Friday are the Pirelli World Challenge GTS Race 1 at 12:15 p.m., the Pro Mazda Race 1 qualifying at 1:30 p.m. and the Indy Lights Race 1 qualifying at 2:15 p.m.
In between, spectators will be treated to practice races as well as an autograph session in the IndyCar fan village at 4:30 p.m.
Friday night, visitors are invited to get into the spirit of the event during the Fast Friday party at North Straub Park. The event will feature music, arts and crafts and entertainment starting at 5:30 p.m.
Children are invited to build their own race cars at the crafts booth and then watch a free screening of the movie, "Cars 3" at the park as soon as it gets dark.
The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg 5K run will get underway at 6:15 p.m. Presented by Modern Business Associates, athletes of all ages and abilities will run along the 1.8-mile, 14-turn race course. Advance registration is $35 with proceeds benefiting the Police Athletic League of St. Petersburg.
Racing will resume Saturday at 7:30 a.m. with the Pro Mazda Race 2 qualifying followed by the Indy Lights Race 2 qualifying.
Saturday’s races also will include the Pirelli World Challenge GTS Race 2, the USF 2000 Race 2, Stadium Super Trucks Race 1 and Indy Lights Race 1.
On Sunday, following the Indy Lights Race 2 and the Stadium Super Trucks Race 2, the starting flag for the much-anticipated IndyCar Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will drop at 12:30 p.m. The race will be broadcast nationally on ABC.
The racing events will wind up Sunday afternoon with the Pirelli World Challenge GT-GTA-GT Cup Race 2 at 3:15 p.m. and the Pro Mazda Race 2 at 4:30 p.m.
Tickets range from $20 for general admission Friday to $135 for three-day reserved seats.
For more information, visit the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg website.
Image via Firestone Grand Prix