I have covered this event for five years now, and it really gets me excited for the beginning of the Indycar season. The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg had its formal track build ceremony this morning. Today was actually the fourth day of the track building process. The front grandstands are up, and some of the back stretch walls are line the track, although they need to be moved into their correct position. The track footprint is visible.
The track typically takes 25 days to build, barring rain delays, and 12 days to tear down.
Kim Green one of the owners of Green Savoree, spoke about improvements and suite sales for the 19th race on the streets of St. Petersburg. Green said that some of the suites are sold out and the others are close to being full, and that there are just a few openings for boats in the marina. He added that multiple new grandstands will have five inches of additional leg room.
In addition to the North American viewing outlets, 200 global outlets will carry the race.
St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch reiterated the city’s support for the event.
For the first time since 2019 the 5k run will take place on Thursday, March 2. The race will be in conjunction with the Party in the Park. I will post he release with details tomorrow. The party will feature drivers and cars and is open to the public at no charge.
Andretti Autosport driver Romain Grosjean flew his plane into the airport as the event began, then walked over to the backstretch as the event began. His landing should have been recorded.
Indy NXT driver Ernie Francis, Jr. also spoke.
The Dali Museum is expanding. I spoke with a source from the museum and with Kim Green and learned that the expansion will not affect the course of the track. Green said that they are working closely with the city on this. Spectators might find some inconvenience in the area near the paddock.
I have never seen so many members of the media at this event. There were maybe three times the number of outlets covering this than last year.
USF driver Nikita Johnson and Mazda MX-5 driver Tyler Gonzalez, who won that thrilling race in Daytona by 0.01 seconds, also were on hand. If you watch just one other race at St. Pete, watch the Mazda Mx-5 race. This series puts on a great show.
I spoke with Grosjean and Francis, Jr. I will share what they said tomorrow. Thanks for following along today. It’s just 24 days until race day.