ST. PETERSBURG, FL (March 19, 2012) – Celebrate eight years of fast cars and hairpin turns under sparkling blue skies when the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg races along the downtown waterfront, March 23-25. The thrill ride for all ages features a record 10 races over three days, including Sunday’s marquee event, which starts the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season; the Bright House Speed Zone with interactive displays from the motorsports world; driver autograph sessions; live music, celebrities, beer gardens and great food. The racing world will also pay tribute Sunday to two-time Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon, a St. Petersburg resident and winner of the 2005 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, who lost his life in October.
Racing fans welcome back past and future speedsters, including St. Petersburg native Nick Andries from the Star Mazda series and Shannon McIntosh in the USF2000 series, along with the Pirelli World Challenge and Firestone Indy Lights series races. An added bonus for fans this year, the Ferrari Challenge adds another dimension to three days of wall-to-wall racing. For more information, visit www.gpstpete.com.
Everyone’s invited to climb aboard and feel the roar for a no-holds-barred weekend of racing fun for all ages. Here’s some helpful information to keep you street-legal.
Thursday, March 22
11 a.m. - Green Flag VIP Media Luncheon (invitation only), Vinoy Golf Club, Sunset Ballroom, 501 Fifth Ave. N.E.
5 to 8 p.m. – Festival of States Parade Beach Drive Pre-Party – Museum of Fine Arts, 255 Beach Dr. N.E. – Snag one of the best seats in the house for dinner and the Honda Grand Prix Illuminated Night Parade at the MFA Café; Egyptian-inspired crafts, DJ. Tour the galleries, including the current exhibit Ancient Egypt – Art and Magic for only $10; dinner not included with admission. www.fine-arts.org
7:30 p.m. – The Honda Grand Prix Illuminated Night Parade – Central Ave. at Fifth St. Floats, IndyCar drivers, the Budweiser Clydesdales and marching bands kick off three days of street-legal thrills ending at North Straub Park for a fireworks extravaganza. Free. www.suncoasters-stpete.com.
Drivers attending the Night Parade include: IZOD IndyCar Series - Simon Pagenaud, Katherine Legge, Josef Newgarden, Alex Tagliani, Ed Carpenter. Firestone Indy Lights - David Ostella, Gustavo Yacaman. Star Mazda - Zach Veach. USF2000 - Shannon McIntosh, Shelby Blackstone, Thomas McGregor, Sage Karam, Luca Forgeois, Spencer Pigot.
Friday, March 23
7:15 p.m. (approx.) – the third annual Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg 5K Run, Walk ‘N Wheelathon, presented by Trim Nutrition, Vinoy Park. Proceeds benefit local spinal cord research through the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation and All Children’s Hospital. www.grandprix5k.com
Saturday, March 24
11:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. – Autograph Session – IndyCar Group 1, inside track gates.
4:00 – 5:00 p.m. – Autograph Session – IndyCar Group 2, inside track gates.
Sunday, March 25
Noon-12:30 p.m. - IZOD IndyCar Pre-Race Ceremonies/Dan Wheldon tribute – A tribute to two-time Indy 500 winner, winner of the 2005 inaugural Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and St. Petersburg resident Dan Wheldon and official start.
12:30 p.m. – Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg/IZOD IndyCar Series Race (100 laps)
A hot commodity for race weekend, tickets for the Honda Grand Prix are now on sale. Options include one, two and three-day tickets, group discounts for 10 or more, reserved seating or general admission and paddock passes with a wide range of price points, from $20 to $125, for race fans of all ages. Tickets may be purchased online at 877-283-5385 or www.gpstpete.com and include all taxes and service charges. Tickets purchased at the gate, located at Second St. and Fifth Ave. S., will incur additional fees. For more information, visit www.gpstpete.com.
Don’t miss any of the action trackside with the city of St. Petersburg’s Smart Phone Online Ambassador program. For the second year in a row, smart phone users may scan a QR code -- on display at Ambassador locations, ticket booths and on Ambassador ID badges -- to access race schedules, maps, parking options, transportation, emergency information and other downtown events throughout race weekend all in one place - www.stpete.org/mobilegp. And don’t forget to check Facebook and Twitter for the latest news inside the gates. General race day information can also be found at www.stpete.org/grandprix.
Park and Ride
Race fans will find more than 25,000 parking spaces within a mile of the race track, including the two city-owned garages, for personal vehicle parking. Parking at Bay Walk (enter from Second St. between First and Second Aves. N.) or South Core (enter from the north side of First Ave. S. between Second and First Sts.) will cost $5 for all day on Friday and a $10 all-day event rate on Saturday and Sunday. Private lots, garages and on-street parking will also be available. Motorists are encouraged to observe all posted parking regulations.
Parking is also available at Tropicana Field for $10, where race fans can hop aboard the free Grand Prix shuttle for a ride to the track. Fans may board the shuttle outside the main parking gate at 10th St. and Third Ave. S. for the ride downtown before being dropped off near the Hilton on Fourth Ave. S. between Second and Third Sts. There will be a two-block walk to the race entry gate. The Tropicana Grand Prix shuttle will operate Friday and Saturday from through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Find more parking information and printable maps at www.stpete.org/grandprix.
Take the Trolley
The Looper Downtown Trolley and Central Avenue Trolley will offer rides throughout race weekend for just 50 cents per person. The Looper and Central Avenue Trolley are wheelchair-accessible while the Tropicana shuttle includes dedicated wheelchair-accessible trolleys. For a printable shuttle route map, visit www.StPeteTrolley.com.
Disabled on-street parking is available on a first-come, first-served basis at no charge; some have time limits but most are available for all-day parking. An additional section of metered parking spaces on Central Ave. between First and Second Sts. will be temporarily reserved as free parking for those holding valid Disabled Person Parking Permit placards and are available on a first-come, first-served basis Friday through Sunday. Other locations offering disabled parking at the prevailing rate include city garages, Tropicana Field and the USF garage. The USF garage is recommended for those with limited mobility wishing to enter the Fifth Ave. S. gate, while South Core garage is recommended for those wishing to enter the First Ave. S. gate.
Motorists, residents and visitors to downtown St. Petersburg will see numerous road closures, detours and traffic pattern changes as construction crews turn downtown streets into the 14-turn, 1.8 mile race course. Anyone traveling along the waterfront should note the following changes and plan their route accordingly:
- CLOSED - First Ave. S. from Beach Dr. to Bayshore; LIMITED ACCESS on Second Ave. S. from First to Second St. S., beginning Saturday, March 17;
- CLOSED – Beach Dr. from Central Ave. to First Ave. S. and First Ave. S. from First St. to Beach Dr., beginning Sunday, March 18; public access to The Mahaffey and the Dali will detour to Fourth Ave. S. and First St. S.;
- CLOSED – First St. from First Ave. S. to Sixth Ave. S.; LIMITED ACCESS southbound on First St. from Central Ave. to First Ave., beginning Wednesday, March 21;
- LIMITED ACCESS – First St. S. from Fifth Ave. S. (Dali Blvd.) to Eighth Ave. S. AND Sixth Ave. S. from Second St. to First St. from Friday, March 23 through Sunday, March 25.
All downtown roads affected by the Grand Prix are expected to reopen to normal traffic flow by April 15.
Art aficionados wishing for a surrealistic weekend will be able to take advantage of the Dali’s extended hours and discounted ticketing during the Grand Prix. The Dali will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday, March 22; from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday, March 23 and 24; and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday, March 25. Museum patrons will be required to purchase a race ticket to enter the grounds, in addition to their discounted museum admission. Grand Prix tickets are available at www.gpstpete.com or at the official ticket booth, located at Second St. and Fifth Ave. S. Museum tickets will only be available at the Museum entrance and cost $10 for adults and seniors, $5 for children 12 and under, while children five and younger are free.
The museum parking lot will not be available for patrons during Grand Prix weekend. Alternate parking locations include the two city-owned garages, The Pier’s Dolphin lot and free shuttle, or on-street spaces on a first-come, first-served basis. For more details, visit www.thedali.org.