ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., March 4, 2016 - Downtown St. Petersburg is open for all race fans, visitors and residents alike as the city welcomes three days of fast cars, world-class drivers and family fun on the waterfront during the 2016 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, March 11 -13.  As the season-opening event on this year's 15-race Verizon IndyCar Series calendar, downtown St. Petersburg transforms into one of racing's most beautiful road courses and offers spectacular trackside waterfront views for fans of all ages. The race will be broadcast on ABC beginning at 12:30 p.m. March 13.

Mayor Rick Kriseman will host a flag raising ceremony Thursday, March 10 at 10 a.m., with special guest Sebastien Bourdais, Verizon IndyCar Series driver and local St. Pete resident. Kim Green and Kevin Savoree, owners of the Firestone Grand Prix, will also participate in the ceremony, held on the northwest lawn of City Hall, 175 5th Street N.

To get the Grand Prix weekend off to a speedy start, everyone is invited to embrace the race with live music, a kids' build-a-racecar arts-and-crafts tent, food trucks and family fun at the free Fast Friday festivities in North Straub Park on Friday, March 11. The party kicks off at 6:30 p.m. with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg 5K in North Straub Park. Athletes of all ages and abilities will run along a waterfront course that, this year, will take place completely on the iconic racetrack. Advance registration is $30. Proceeds will benefit All Children's Hospital Johns' Hopkins Medicine. Following the race and awards ceremony, a free Movies on the Lawn event will begin at 7:30 p.m., with family favorite Cars (G). Join us again on Saturday night for cult classic The Cannonball Run (PG). The movies will be shown on the north wall of the Museum of Fine Arts in North Straub Park.

Everyone is welcome to visit St. Petersburg's dining and retail district before, during, and after the race. Both the Tropicana shuttle and Looper Trolley feature extended hours all three days to encourage relaxation and exploration downtown after a day on the race circuit.

Get Social - Stay on top of the action at the track, follow your favorite team or driver and learn what's going on in downtown St. Petersburg using the official Grand Prix hashtag #FirestoneGP. Follow @StPeteFL for the latest updates and standings and show support by using #EmbraceTheRace while sharing photos and comments on Facebook.

For other events in St. Petersburg during race weekend, visit www.stpete.org/events.

For more information on the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg 5K, visit www.gpstpete.com.

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