Each March brings exotic sounds throughout the St. Petersburg corridor…Grand Prix St Petersburg. Furthermore, our city nestled between Tampa Bay and the Top Beaches in the World becomes the focus of the international Grand Prix racing circuit. The sounds of racing engines fill the air for 3 days. Additionally, there are detour signs located around the waterfront of Downtown. But it’s no hassle as long as you join in the festivities. Make it a tradition to participate each year. In addition, make sure to invite your friends and family to participate with you. Also look below to see the schedule and important information.
March 13-15, 2020
14 Turn, 1.8 Mile Waterfront Track
Schedule of Events: Grand Prix St Petersburg FL
7:55 a.m.: USF2000 Race 1 qualifying
8:20: Pro Mazda practice
9:05: Indy Lights practice
10:05: Pirelli World Challenge, GT-GTA-GT Cup qualifying
10:40: USF2000 Race 2 qualifying
11:15: IndyCar practice
12:15 p.m.: Pirelli World Challenge, GTS Race 1
1:30: Pro Mazda Race 1 qualifying
2:15: Indy Lights Race 1 qualifying
3: IndyCar practice
4: Stadium Super Trucks practice
4:30: Autograph session, IndyCar fan village
6:15: 5K, North Straub Park
7:30 a.m.: Pro Mazda Race 2 qualifying
7:55: Indy Lights race 2 qualifying
8:40: USF2000 Race 1
9:35: Pirelli World Challenge, GT-GTS-GT Cup race 1
10:50: IndyCar practice
11:50: Pro Mazda Race 1
12:55 p.m.: Pirelli World Challenge, GTS Race 2
2: USF2000 Race 2
2:55: IndyCar qualifying
4:25: Stadium Super Trucks Race 1
5:10: Indy Lights Race 1
9 a.m.: IndyCar warmup
9:45: Indy Lights race 2
11: Stadium Super Trucks Race 2
12:30: IndyCar Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
3:15: Pirelli World Challenge, GT-GTA-GT Cup Race 2
4:30: Pro Mazda Race 2
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More Info: Grand Prix St Petersburg FL
The 16th annual Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is a race event held during Florida’s spring break season each March. As the IndyCar Series’ season-opening race for the ninth consecutive year, St. Pete is a destination city hosting this annual motorsports tradition and offering a festival atmosphere with its downtown location. The temporary circuit is a 1.8-mile, 14-turn configuration using the streets circling Pioneer Park, the Duke Energy Center for the Arts, The Dali Museum and extending onto the runways at Albert Whitted Airport, which overlooks the waterfront of Tampa Bay and picturesque St. Petersburg Harbor and Marina.
Date: Thursday, March 12
Time: 9:30 a.m.
Location: City Hall
Movie in the Park: Grand Prix St Petersburg FL
Join the City of St. Pete for our movies on the lawn, race weekend edition.
Movie: Herbie Fully Loaded
Date: Friday, March 13
Location: North Straub Park
Movie events are free and open to the public. Movie starts at dark. Kids arts and craft station starts at 5:30 p.m.
Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg 5K
The 8th Annual Modern Business Associates 5K Run on the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Track is set for Friday, March 13, 2020. Online registration is now open for runners and walkers at gpstpete5k.com to “race on track.”
Parking and Transportation Information
We like to utilize Uber or Lyft to avoid the traffic and parking woes. But here are more options for transportation:
Park Downtown: City parking garages are a $10-all-day event rate on Friday and a $15-all-day event rate on Saturday and Sunday. Motorcycle parking is available for $5, Saturday and Sunday along the west side of 1st Street South between 1st Avenue South and Central Avenue.
- South Core
(enter from the north side of First Avenue S. between Second and First Streets)
- MidCore/Sundial Garage
(enter from Second Street between First and Second Avenues N.)
Park and Ride Shuttle from the Trop: From 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. there is a free shuttle service from Tropicana Field to the race course. Park in Lots 1 and 2 at Tropicana Field, the cost will be $10 by credit card only. The shuttle picks passengers up on 16th Street S. and drops off passengers at Second Street S. and Fifth Avenue S. The shuttle operates all three race days from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and is ADA accessible.
Take the St. Petersburg Trolley: The Looper Downtown Trolley and Central Avenue Shuttle (St. Pete’s trolley system) offers rides throughout Grand Prix weekend for .50 per person. The Looper provides a circular route between the city’s parking facilities, hotels, restaurants and attractions at no charge. More info: Grand Prix Shuttle .
Parking for persons with disabilities: All permanent on-street accessible spaces are available on a first-come, first-served basis at no charge — some have time limits but most are available for all-day parking. City garages, the USF St. Petersburg garage and Tropicana Field provide accessible parking at the prevailing rate. The USF St. Petersburg garage is recommended for those with limited mobility wishing to enter the 5th Avenue S. gate, while the SouthCore garage is recommended for those wishing to enter the First Avenue S. gate. The Looper is wheelchair accessible and the Tropicana shuttle includes dedicated wheelchair accessible trolleys. Disabled parking at Tropicana Field is located just inside the gate at 10th Street.
Entry Gates: There are two entry gates to the race course. Both gates offered wheelchair access. There is intermittent time when wheelchairs can cross the actual racetrack, with estimated crossing times posted on-site and at gpstpete.com .
- Gate 1: First Avenue S. and First Street S.
- Wheelchair access
- Ticket booth
- Gate 5: Fifth Avenue S. and Second Street S.
- Wheelchair access
- Ticket booth
- Will call
Transportation: Grand Prix St Petersburg
Ride Your Bike: A large number of temporary bicycle racks are available outside each entry gate in addition to the more than 75 permanent bicycle rack locations throughout the downtown area. St. Pete also offers several bike share stations .
Taxi: Taxi stands are located at the designated areas and offer a variety of taxi services for race days.
- Southwest Stand – Third Street S. and Fifth Avenue S.
- Southeast Stand – Second Street S. and Fourth Avenue S.
Ferry: Coming from Tampa? Take the Cross Bay Ferry directly to St. Pete’s downtown waterfront.
Traffic Detours: Grand Prix St Petersburg
The following downtown streets are closed or have limited access to traffic through race weekend:
History: Grand Prix St Petersburg
“St Petersburg’s street-paved-airport runway course has been pulling in the crowds since 2003, however the origins of racing on the bayfront area goes back nearly two decades further.
In the mid-1980s, the downtown area of St Petersburg was rather overlooked, despite offering a marina, a pier and even a small stretch of beach. In the hope of boosting awareness of the area across the wider Tampa Bay region, in 1985 the city fathers were persuaded that a street race might just give the exposure that was needed.
While the hype – which suggested St Pete race could become the Monaco of the Floridian coast – may well have been somewhat wide of the mark, the first event did achieve its aims of widening the city’s profile and perhaps fair comparisons could be made with the early days of Long Beach. Held with SCCA Trans Am and Can Am cars as headliners, the first St Petersburg Grand Prix incorporated a section of the Pier approach road, creating the longest stretch of waterfront racing in the USA. This didn’t necessarily create the most exciting or raceable of tracks, but nonetheless the action was enough to satisfy most onlookers. Willy T. Ribbs led from flag-to-flag to win the inaugural Trans Am event while Dr Lou Sell won the Can Am race.
Beginnings: Grand Prix St Petersburg
A crowd of around 60,000 was reported, though no doubt some of these might have been more tempted by the after race concerts held in nearby North Straub Park featuring the likes of Conway Twitty and Waylon Jennings… Unfortunately, the one thing the race didn’t manage to do was make money, with the organisers left with a $500,000 loss. Future events would require city council handouts to ensure they could go ahead as well as a substantial injection of cash from a new event sponsor.
For 1986, a revised course was constructed after traders on the Pier complained that they had been left isolated and cut off from their customers the previous year. The course now headed along 1st Street before darting through the car park of Al Lang Field baseball stadium (helpfully removing the need for the previous year’s clumsy escape-road-free concrete chicane), then out along Beach Drive to the Vinoy Renaissance Hotel and then returning via Bayfront Drive. Temporary tyre chicanes were employed at various points, though if anything, these were almost as bad as the concrete carbuncle and pretty poorly executed.
In this format the race continued on until 1990, when the loss of the main sponsor spelled the end. Winners during this time included Pete Halsmer, Scott Pruett, Irv Hoerr and Walter Rohrl in the mighty Audi 80 Trans Am, while a young Johnny O’Connell won in Formula Atlantic in 1987. That same year saw tragedy during the Trans Am race, when long-time SCCA competitor Jim Fitzgerald was killed when his car lost control and hit the concrete barriers in Turn One.
Racing Returns: Grand Prix St Petersburg
Racing did return briefly in 1996 and 1997, though on a different course a few blocks away around Tropicana Field stadium. Narrower and altogether less interesting, the race ran for two years with decent attendances before the loss of title sponsor Kash n’ Karry saw the plug pulled once more before the 1998 race.
One of the organisers of the revival events was Tom Begley and he continued to harbour desires to return racing to St Petersburg. After several years of planning and lobbying, the CART Champ Car series announced it was to headline a new Grand Prix from 2003. Rather uniquely, this would incorporate some of the turns of the 1986-90 course, coupled with one of the runways of the adjacent Albert Whitted Airport. New sections of link road would join the two together, while a purpose-built pit lane and paddock area would greatly improve things for the teams.
The new course was immediately popular with the drivers, being considerably smoother than many street courses and offering definite opportunities for overtaking. Paul Tracy ran out the winner after rookie Sebastian Bourdais had taken the pole. Despite the event being judged a success, uncertainty over the viability of the Champ Car series itself forced organisers to cancel the 2004 event. When racing resumed in 2005, it was the cars of the rival Indy Racing League that would line up on race day, the event becoming in the process the first street or road course ever contested by the previously ovals-only series. Ex-pat Brit Dan Wheldon ran out a popular winner on the streets of his adopted home town.
Changes: Grand Prix St Petersburg
Following his death in 2011, the city authorities announced that one of the link roads to the airfield would officially be named Dan Wheldon Way. An emotional ceremony attended by his family unveiled the signage prior to the 2012 race.
The race has continued to build year-on-year and has become firmly established as a popular season opener. Between 2007 and 2009 the American Le Mans Series also held races here, with battles between the works Audis and Penske-run Porsches wowing the crowds. Today, the sportscar action is confined to the opening rounds of the Pirelli World Challenge, though the racing is, if anything, even more spectacular.
In 2013, Firestone was announced as the replacement for Honda as event sponsor in a new multi-year deal which should guarantee racing continues for the foreseeable future. Minor changes were made to the course at Turn 3 for 2017, with kerbs added to the inside of the turn, narrowing and sharpening the turn radius following a number of collisions and near misses in previous years.”