Grand Prix drivers enjoy sights of St. Petersburg, get ready for Sunday's race

By Katie Jones, Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, March 10, 2017, 8:02 AM EST

It was the calm before the storm, or in this case speed on Thursday as drivers from the Firestone Grand Prix St. Petersburg joined together for media day before meeting on the track.

"The city around it is so cool," Cadillac Racing driver Michael Cooper said. "You've got all the restaurants and the hotels and so much nightlife right around the track, so there's a good vibe and a lot of excitement around the event."

Downtown St. Petersburg has been transformed into every race fan and driver’s dream for the 13th annual event that kicks off the race season.

Tens of thousands of spectators are expected to turn out for the weekend festivities that include live entertainment and a whole lot of thrills. Former Indy Car Series Champion and Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan said the event is unlike any other.

"It's a beautiful place, it's by the beach, we have a track where the back straight away is on the water," Kanaan said. "It's hard to pick one thing, everything is so pretty here."

Drivers from across the world will be driving in the Grand Prix that is sure to put St. Petersburg in the international spotlight. Australian driver Anthony Martin said after the excitement calms down, he plans to stick around and see what the Bay Area has to offer.

"It's a really lively city, that's why I've actually decided to stay around a bit longer and get to see things I don't normally see," Martin said. "It's always race, race, race and unfortunately you don't get to see much," Martin said.