St. Pete Preview

The good thing about Indycar back to back weekends is that the teams and drivers who had a hard time last week have a chance to recover immediately. The bad thing about this scheduling is that the teams who did well have pressure to stay op front. The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is ususally a race where starting at the front is an advantage. Yet in 2018 Sebastien Bourdais won from last place. Last October’s race was a wild affair decided in the last few laps.

A few things to watch for this weekend.

Newgarden Rebound

Josef Newgarden should come back with a strong showing after his first lap mishap at Barber last weekend. Newgarden has won at St. Pete the last two years, continuing a pattern of back to back winners. Juan Pablo Montoya won in 2015 and 2016, Sebastien Bourdais won in 2017 and 2018. No one has won this event three years in a row. Newgarden doesn’t usually have two bad races in a row. If he isn’t the winner, I expect him to be on the podium.

Andretti Team Needs a Good Weekend

Andretti Autosport looked as if they were set for good results at Barber. Alexander Rossi started on the front row, and Colton Herta just missed the Fast Six despite a practice crash. Herta and teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay were taken out of contention before completing a lap. Rossi faded to a ninth place finish. James Hinchcliffe never found the pace.

In the October race, the entire team looked strong, and both Rossi and Herta had a chance to win until late accidents took them out. The rest of the team was doing well until late race mishaps ruined their days. The team needs to bring the strength they showed in the 2020 finale and complete the task. Last year they got off to a rough start, and a good showing at Str. Pete will help get them on the right path.

Foyt, Bourdais Hope to Build on Good Start

Sebastien Bourdais might be the driver who brings A. J. Foyt Racing back to competitiveness. Bourdais qualified eighth at Barber and finished fifth after leading a lap. At St. Pete last fall, Bourdais qualified well and finished fourth. Another good showing will give the team some momentum for the rest of the season. Bourdais has won at St. Pete twice.


think they will have another decent weekend. They won’t be contending for wins this season, but Bourdais should be fighting for spots in the top half of the field.

Rookie Challenges

Romain Grosjean, Scott McLaughlin, and Jimmie Johnson did reasonably well in their debut last weekend, but today begins a new challenge. Grosjean advanced to the second ropund of qualifying and finished 10th. McLaughlin finished 14th. Johnson escaped damage in the first lap incidenrt with some nice maneuvers and waa running at the finish.

Street courses are a different animal. I’m interested to see how the trio responds to the challenges of this tight short course.

I look for Newgarden to have a strong weekend and perhaps take his third straight St. Pete race. If he doesn’t win, Newgarden will take a big step toward getting back into the title chase. Scott Dixon has never won at this track, but given the Ganassi team’s great performance overall last week,

Andretti team recovery

Newgarden Bounces back


Can Foyt keep it going

AMSP- learn from strategy error?

St. Pete Schedule, Ticket Update

According to the GPStPete website, only General Admission tickets remain for Sunday. Saturday grandstand seats are available in socially distanced blocks. the entire block must be purchased. GA is available. Friday is General Admission. Three day grandstand ticket holders have first rights to their grandstand seats on Friday

The event schedule:

Schedule subject to change without notice
All times Eastern Time


7:45 AM – 6:00 PM Gate Hours
8:00 AM – 8:40 AMMX-5 CupPractice 1
8:55 AM – 9:25 AMUSF2000Practice 1
9:40 AM – 10:10 AMIndy Pro 2000Practice 1
10:25 AM – 11:05 AMIndy LightsPractice 1
11:20 AM – 12:00 PMMX-5 CupPractice 2
12:15 PM – 12:35 PMUSF2000Qualifying 1
12:50 PM – 1:10 PMIndy Pro 2000Qualifying 1
1:25 PM – 1:55 PMIndy LightsQualifying 1
2:10 PM – 2:40 PMStadium SUPER TrucksPractice/Qualifying
2:55 PM – 3:15 PMMX-5 CupQualifying
3:30 PM – 3:50 PMUSF2000Qualifying 2
4:15 PM – 5:00 PMNTT INDYCAR SERIESPractice 1-Peacock
5:25 PM – 5:55 PMIndy LightsQualifying 2


7:45 AM – 6:00 PM Gate Hours
8:00 AM – 8:20 AMIndy Pro 2000Qualifying 2
8:35 AM – 9:20 AMMX-5 CupRace 1
9:45 AM – 10:30 AMNTT INDYCAR SERIESPractice 2- Peacock
10:55 AM – 11:35 AMUSF2000Race 1
11:50 AM – 12:35 PMIndy Pro 2000Race 1
12:50 PM – 1:20 PMStadium SUPER TrucksRace 1
1:45 PM – 3:00 PMNTT INDYCAR SERIESQualifying- Peacock
3:20 PM – 4:05 PMIndy LightsRace 1 Peacock
4:20 PM – 5:05 PMMX-5 CupRace 2
5:20 PM – 6:00 PMUSF2000Race 2


7:45 AM – 4:00 PM Gate Hours
8:00 AM – 8:40 AMIndy Pro 2000Race 2
9:05 AM – 9:35 AMNTT INDYCAR SERIESWarm-Up- Peacock
10:00 AM – 10:50 AMIndy LightsRace 2 Peacock
11:05 AM – 11:35 PMStadium SUPER TrucksRace 2
12:00 PMNTT INDYCAR SERIESDriver Introductions

Pre race show begins at noon on NBC Sunday.

NBCSN lists a delayed Practice show at 10 pm ET Saturday. I assume they mean qualifying, but I will try to get clarification.

Signs of Spring- St. Pete Track Build Begins

Photo: A wall section goes into place on Dan Wheldon Way. Photo from GPSTPETE Twitter page

A welcome sight in downtown St. Petersburg, although a month later than usual, today was the first day of the track build for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The race has been the traditional opening round of the NTT Indycar Series. Because of the pandemic in 2020, the race took place in August last year. In 2021, this will be the second race race of the year. The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama will open the year April 18, followed by St Pete the following weekend.

St. Petersburg has quite an extensive heritage of street racing dating back to the 1980s. I wrote a piece about the early racing last October.

You can find it here:

On hand for today’s ceremonies A. J. Foyt racing driver Sebastien Bourdais, a resident of St. Petersburg. Bourdais won this race in 2017 and 2018

The event has a 20,000 fans per day limit. Three day tickets are on sale now at

VeeKay Reveals 2021 Livery

Ed Carpenter racing driver Rinus VeeKay revealed the livery for car 21 on Twitter this morning. The car is basically the same as lat year’s. Sonax is the main sponsor with help fro Netherlands grocer Jumbo.

The 2020 Rookie of the Year won his first pole and earned his first podium finish at the Harvest Grand Prix last Octoberat Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I think he will have a great season in 2021.

Firestone GP of St. Petersburg Tickets on Sale Tomorrow; Super Trucks Return

Green Savoree promotions announced that tickets for the Firestone GP of St. Petersburg go on sale tomorrow, March 18 for the April 23-25 race weekend. The promoter also said that Robby Gordon’s Super trucks will return to the weekend.. The event earlier announced that attendance is limited to 20,000 spectators each day. the number of tickets available depends on the number of tickets sold during the ticket renewal period which just ended. The release:

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (March 17, 2021) – Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg 3-Day Reserved Grandstand and General Admission tickets go on sale to the public starting tomorrow (March 18) at 2 p.m. ET. The 17th annual event is set for April 23-25, in downtown St. Petersburg racing on the picturesque 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary waterfront street circuit.    Tickets are available online at with pricing starting at $115 for 3-Day Reserved Grandstand seats and $60 for 3-Day General Admission tickets. Junior pricing is also available for those fans ages 12 and under. Based on remaining availability in order to maintain social distancing measures on site, a limited number of Single-Day tickets will be released for sale on Thursday, April 1.    Green Savoree St. Petersburg (GSSP), organizers of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, are also announcing today the much-anticipated return of a fan favorite to the weekend schedule. The SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks will be a part of the on track action again. These high-flying trucks will showcase doubleheader races jumping across ramps, rumbling and rolling through the corners. Eleven races in total across six different racing series will hit the track for race fans.   “We’re really excited to feature Robby Gordon’s Stadium SUPER Trucks series again for our fans. They asked for them, so they are back to provide even more thrills to a great Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg weekend,” said Kim Green, co-owner, chairman and CEO of GSSP. “We also thank our race fans for their continued support and cooperation in following all the necessary protocols again as we run a safe, fun weekend during this pandemic doing so the ‘St. Pete Way’.”
Alongside the headlining NTT INDYCAR SERIES race on Sunday and the SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks, the additional racing series featured during the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg are all three open-wheel development levels of the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires, which includes the return of Indy Lights this year, and the Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich adding some fender-to-fender, showroom stock racing thrills. Each of these four series will also hold doubleheader races.   As announced earlier this month, City of St. Petersburg Council approved a resolution for 20,000 spectators to attend per day. Using an approved event plan built in collaboration with local health officials and INDYCAR, GSSP will operate the event with specific health and safety protocols for COVID-19. Fans should visit before attending to review all these protocols.    Competitors, spectators and all associated with the event will be subject to a health screening and temperature check before entry is permitted. All attendees will be required to wear masks or facial coverings at all times unless when eating or drinking with the “No Mask, No Entry” plan. Those who don’t have one will be issued a mask at the entry gates. Hand sanitizer and hand washing stations will be prevalent across the venue. 
For complete ticket pricing and customer FAQs, visit Also, follow the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on social media using #FirestoneGP for additional updates and news. The complete weekend schedule will also be posted next week on the event website. 
About Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg: The 17th annual Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is a race event held during Florida’s spring break season each March. Traditionally the site of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES’ season-opening race, 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. Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is owned and operated by Green Savoree St. Petersburg, LLC. Green Savoree St. Petersburg, LLC is owned by Green Savoree Racing Promotions 2, LLC whose other subsidiaries also promote three additional INDYCAR races, The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (July 2-4, 2021), Honda Indy Toronto (July 9-11, 2021), and Grand Prix of Portland (Sept. 10-12, 2021). 
For more information, visit, ‘like’ its Facebook page at@GPSTPETE or follow the event on Twitter@GPSTPETE and Instagram@GPSTPETE using #FirestoneGP.

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Pete Will Allow 20,000 Fans

The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg announced today that 20,000 fans will be allowed to attend the race scheduled fo0r the weekend of April 23-25. The race was originally set for this coming weekend as the NTT Indycar Series season opener, but was moved to the second race of the year after the race at Barber motorsports Park April 18.

Renewals begin today uband last through 5 pm Eastern March 15. general sales begin March 18 at 2 pm Eastern.

The official release:

Officials from the City of St. Petersburg and Green Savoree St. Petersburg, LLC (GSSP) announced today that members of City Council have unanimously approved for spectator attendance at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg set for April 23-25, 2021.
At today’s City of St. Petersburg Council Meeting, an event plan was presented by GSSP officials and Mayor Rick Kriseman’s administration, and City Council approved the resolution by a count of eight votes to zero for 20,000 spectators to attend per day. As was implemented at the October 2020 race weekend, GSSP will operate the event under specific health and safety protocols for COVID-19. Fans should visit for more information on these essential event protocols. 
“This is an important event for our local economy and will again serve to showcase and elevate the Sunshine City on the world stage,” said St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman. “I am confident that the protocols in place will allow for a safe, fun race weekend in St. Pete.”
The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg traditionally kicks off the INDYCAR season. This year it will be the second race on the NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule since the postponement from the first weekend of March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The shift to a later April weekend provides the opportunity for more fans to attend.
Coinciding with this announcement, the exclusive renewal period begins today (March 4) for race fans who attended last year’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and purchased 3-Day tickets. These customers will have until Monday, March 15th at 5 p.m. ET to renew their 3-Day Reserved Grandstand seats or General Admission tickets. Grandstand seating will be limited capacity again to allow for social distancing between groups. Public ticket sales will open on Thursday, March 18th at 2 p.m. ET.
“This is another great day for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, our race fans and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. The City of St. Petersburg is always one of the crown jewel stops each season for the entire INDYCAR community,” said Kim Green, co-owner, chairman and CEO of GSSP, organizers of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. “We are thankful for the support of Mayor Rick Kriseman, City Council, the City’s entire event team and Pinellas County for putting their faith in us again to operate this event and assisting us with our plan to host it ‘The St. Pete Way’ with the proper precautions in place.”
“On behalf of the entire Green Savoree Racing Promotions team, thank you to the staff at Penske Entertainment and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and of course, Mayor Kriseman and his great team at the City, and St. Pete City Council for all their hard work in making this rescheduled date happen,” said Kevin Savoree, co-owner, president and COO of GSSP. “We’re looking forward to the last weekend in April for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. And, especially we greatly appreciate the patience of our fans as we work through all the planning. Let’s go!”
Competitors, spectators and all associated with the event will be subject to a health screening and temperature check before entry is permitted. All attendees will be required to wear masks or facial coverings at all times unless when eating or drinking with the “No Mask, No Entry” plan. Those who don’t have one will be issued a mask at the entry gates. The CDC’s recommended guideline of at least six feet of social distancing should be maintained while on site. Hand sanitizer and hand washing stations will be prevalent across the venue.
Additional event information and customer FAQs will be posted at shortly. Ticket purchasers on file and also those customers who deferred tickets from the 2020 event will also receive a direct communication on the renewal and ticketing process. 
The 100-lap NTT INDYCAR SERIES race will be broadcast live nationally on NBC with coverage beginning at 12 noon ET. Live streaming of all INDYCAR practice and qualifying sessions will be available on Peacock Premium throughout the weekend.

St. Pete Moves to April 25; Barber Inherits Season Opener

From Indycar this morning:

INDYCAR Announces Update
to 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Schedule
Series to return to popular Streets of St. Petersburg in April INDIANAPOLIS (Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021) – INDYCAR officials have announced the 2021 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is being rescheduled for Sunday, April 25 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The move creates a condensed, action-packed early-season schedule for 2021. The NTT INDYCAR SERIES returns to the Streets of St. Petersburg after Josef Newgarden’s thrilling win last October, which culminated with Scott Dixon’s sixth series title. NBC will remain as the television home of this year’s race on the tight, demanding street layout. “It’s not surprising that an event of this magnitude, scheduled for the first week of March, is still subject to the implications of the pandemic,” Penske Entertainment Corp. President and CEO Mark Miles said. “We’re delighted we were able to work with Mayor Rick Kriseman’s administration and Green Savoree Racing Promotions to find a more suitable date, which helps consolidate the beginning of our schedule and allows us to stay on NBC network television.” Due to the move, Barber Motorsports Park becomes the host of the season opener as the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama will raise the curtain on the 2021 season. The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will mark the 18th NTT INDYCAR SERIES event in the Sunshine City. The traditional season opener since 2011 and a fan favorite on the INDYCAR schedule, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg received a three-year title sponsorship extension from Bridgestone Americas, Inc. last October. “We appreciate the officials at INDYCAR for their support in setting a new date for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and also to Mayor Kriseman and his team at the City of St. Petersburg for identifying a time when it will be conducive for more fans to attend,” said Kim Green, co-owner, chairman and CEO of GSSP, organizers of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. “We are grateful to keep the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in the springtime window and also maintain the live national broadcast coverage of the race on NBC.” An updated listing of green flag times for the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule will be announced at a later date.

Buying Time- Changes at the Front of the Schedule?

Indycar is considering pushing the opening of the season into April. The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is set to start the 2021 NTT Indycar Series the weekend of March 5-7. At that time attendance restrictions will likely still be in place. By moving the race to late April the series and Green Savoree Promotions are hoping for fewer restrictions as more COVID vaccinations will have been given by then. Green Savoree lost two races last season, Toronto and Portland. They hosted a double header weekend at Mid Ohio with just 6,000 fans a day and held the St. Pete race as the season finale with a limited number of fans.

The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, originally set for April 18, is now the season finale September 26.

The new calendar may have Barber moving back a week as well and serving as the season opener. Currently slotted for the weekend of April9-11, Barber would move to April 17-18, followed by St. Pete the following weekend. Through 2011, St. Pete and Barber were on back to back weekends.

St. Pete has not put tickets on sale as of yet with the race scheduled about eight weeks away. This tells that that something is going on. The decision needs to be made soon, since the track build would have to begin around the first if February.

Other series have either postponed or placed restrictions on their early events. Formula1 has postponed the first race, the Australian Grand prix to a yet to be determined date later in the season. IMSA has modified attendance and infield access for the Rolex 24. The Tulsa Shootout and the Chili Bowl will go on as scheduled with limited attendance and restricted fan access. The Tulsa health department will monitor the Shootout and may shut down the Chili Bowl if rules including mask wearing are not enforced.

Changes at the Rolex 24 Hours

Changes for the Rolex 24 emailed to ticket holders two weeks ago:

Unfortunately because of these required protocols, the following experiences have been cancelled:

  • Garage Access
  • Fan access to grid walk and ballfield for pre-race festivities
  • Infield Tent Camping
  • Infield Car Camping
  • GEICO Park West Tent Camping
  • Café 24 Breakfast

All 2021 Rolex 24 At DAYTONA 2-Day or 4-Day admissions are still on your account and will be available to download/print approximately two weeks before the event as we will not be mailing tickets or camping passes in 2021. This also includes your free admission to the Roar Before the Rolex 24, January 22-24. For more information on how to access your tickets using Tickets @ Home, click here. For our guests with a cancelled experience, we understand this news is disappointing and we have placed a credit on your account for the cancelled experiences.

We recognize that many factors, including your ability to travel, may have been impacted by the pandemic, and we want you to understand your options as you make decisions related to attending the 2021 Rolex 24. Please carefully read your options below based on your specific Rolex 24 At DAYTONA experience.

We thank you in advance for your cooperation in keeping everyone safe.


RV Campers will be limited to six people per campsite, and all RVs must be self-contained as shower facilities will be closed. In addition, for the safety of our competitors and staff, the garages, paddock and pit road will be closed to fans, and the grid walk and ballfield access will be also be closed to fans for the 2021 event. As a result, Garage access is no longer included with the 4-day admission. We understand this news is disappointing, and we have placed a credit on your account amounting to 20% of your 4-day admissions.

Four day parking is available for $60. Cars must leave the track at the close of each day’s activities. This does not apply to race day.

Indycar Notes- Is Mario Out of a Ride? Honda Ends Fastest Seat in Sports Commitment

Photo: Mario Andretti drives the two seater before the start of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Indycar photo, Chris Jones

A story that got curiouser and curiouser finally reached its conclusion this morning.

An article in The Drive by Steve Cole Smith on October 31 indicated that !969 Indianapolis 500 winner and World Champion Mario Andretti will not return to drive Honda’s Fastest Seat in Sports, the 2 seater that leads the grid before the start of races. Smith said he learned at St. Pete that Honda is removing Andretti from the ride.

Andretti later responded with a Tweet saying this was “Fake news.”

Robin Miller of Racer magazine in a story yesterday (November 1) says that Honda has denied firing Mario. Mario also stated his desire to continue with the program, which began in 2005.

Just a couple of hours ago, Marshall Pruett of Racer reports that Honda is ending its sponsorship of the Fastest Seat in Sports. Indycar is seeking a new sponsor for the program. The question left is, will Mario Andretti still be driving?

Testing at Barber Today

21 cars will participate in the first official day of offseason testing for the NTT Indycar Series today. First time drivers taking part are three time Australian Supercars Champion Scott McLaughlin for Team Penske, seven time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson for Chip Ganassi racing, and Formula E champion Antonio Felix da Costa for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. The da Costa test is a courtesy test and not expected to lead to an Indycar ride.

The testing list, from Nathan Brown’s Twitter feed:

St. Pete Tears Down Track

My Eyes in Florida tells me that the St. Pete track is being torn down, to be rebuilt late February next year. the podiums for the race winner and championship celebrations are still up as of this morning. I would think they would leave the grandstands up as they did all summer. There is actually less time between the March 2021 race and the race two weekends ago than there was between the original date for this year and when the race was held.