Mayors, media hit go-kart track for Firestone Grand Prix karting challenge

By Kim Leoffler, Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, March 07, 2018, 5:17 PM EST

Teamed up with two pro drivers for the Firestone Grand Prix media karting challenge, the Spectrum Bay News 9 team took home a trophy at the annual kick-off event for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

  • Annual Mayor's Race part of event
  • Marco Andretti, Sabastien Bourdais among pro racers at event
  • Firestone Grand Prix weekend starts Friday, March 9

Indy Car star Marco Andretti and Sebastien Bourdais, last year's Firestone Grand Prix of St. Pete champ, along with rookie drivers Brian Horne and Kim Leoffler (yours truly) made for a combination of experience and skill that the other teams couldn't top.

"No sliding," Bourdais said when asked what advice he had for the rookies. "Those things are metal karts and they're pretty heavy, and not too too much power." 

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, who won the mayor's race right before the BN9 team hit the tracks, had some advice for rookie Kim.

"I would tell her, 'Get out of the way!' because we'll pass her," Kriesman said.

Talk is cheap, Mr. Mayor. What happens on the track is what counts.

Andretti hit the course first and built a very nice lead. Then it was up to Brian and Kim to keep it going in the second leg.

Their goal: don't spin out and don't crash. That simple yet effective approach allowed the rookies to keep the lead intact for the ringer to finish the job.

When it was his turn, Bourdais quickly pulled ahead on the last leg and secured the victory.

Winner's trophy for the Karting Challenge in hand, Bourdais said he's ready to hit the track in the real cars this weekend.

"Pretty comfortable with where we're at," he said. "We've done a lot of work and hopefully it pays off, and we get a good shot at trying to repeat what we did last year." 

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg weekend starts Friday, March 9. Drivers hit the track for the big race on Sunday.