ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (FOX 13) - Buckle up Tampa Bay, the Grand Prix has returned to St. Petersburg.
The annual Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is here, with events starting Friday and qualifying races starting Saturday. The main event will be on Sunday.
“I love the Grand Prix. I love the sound of the engines,” said race fan Karen Gauthier.
The streets of downtown have been transformed into a high-speed, high octane race track. There are 11 total races during the three-day event, wrapping up Sunday with the main event: The NTT IndyCar Series race.
“It shows off what St. Pete has to offer: A little hometown spirit and international flare," said race fan Kenny Schupp.
And that flare has turned into a major economic boom for the city, to the tune of about $40 million in economic impact.
“It is a pretty healthy shot in the arm," said Kevin Savoree, CEO of Savoree Racing Promotion. "One of the great things about it, it’s an annual shot in the arm."
For non-racers, it may be a pain to try to navigate through traffic with the temporary street closures, and the event is also occurring during Florida’s spring break season. City officials said the following downtown streets will be closed or have limited access to traffic during race weekend:
Closed – Beach Dr. from Central Avenue to First Avenue S.
Closed – First Street from First Avenue S. to Fifth Avenue S.
Closed – Albert Whitted Park, motorized and pedestrian traffic
Limited Access – On Second Avenue S. from First to Second Street S.
Limited Access – First Street S. from Fifth Avenue S to Eighth Avenue S.
Limited Access – Sixth Avenue S. from Second Street to First Street
Other events going on include the Grand Prix Movie in the Park. This year, Herbie Fully Loaded will be playing in North Straub Park on Friday. The film starts at dark, and the public event is free. A kids' arts and craft station opens at 5:30 p.m.
The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg 5K is also set for Friday at 6 p.m.