Athough race weekend does not officially begin until Friday, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is off to a fast start. On Thursday, the race's lead sponsor announced they were extending their sponsorship of the race through 2020.
- Bridgestone Americas began title sponsorship in 2014
- City can now plan around future races
- For tickets to the race, visit gpstpete.com
"We figured the best way we could say 'thank you' was to go ahead and extend our sponsorship with the race through 2020," said Firestone spokeswoman Lisa Boggs.
“The streets of St. Petersburg are an ideal proving ground to showcase the durable, dependable technology built into Firestone tires," Boggs continued. "The support from the city and its residents, along with the team at Green Savoree Racing Promotions, has made this one of the marquee events on the Verizon IndyCar® Series circuit.”
“Our team at Green Savoree Racing Promotions is honored to continue this partnership with Firestone for an additional two years,” said Kim Green, chairman and co-owner of Green Savoree Racing Promotions, the organizers of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. “Firestone is one of most iconic and successful brands in auto racing history. Its impact on this event’s growth as well as the positive momentum happening in the Verizon IndyCar® Series is tremendous.”
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said that kind of commitment will help grow the annual event.
"That really allows people to plan in advance," Kriseman said. "Reserve hotel rooms early, make airplane reservations. It’s a lot cheaper when you know what you’re doing in advance, that when you’re doing it at the last minute."
This all adds up to better start to the race than last year. Spectrum Bay News 9 has learned that in 2017, a bump in the asphalt on Turn Three of the track almost derailed the entire race.
Drivers testing the track during practice runs were losing control on that turn, but city workers worked overnight to fix it.
This year, Grand Prix officials say they couldn't be happier with the track's condition.
"Now we’ve changed that again back to what it was like," said Green, "and so I think the race track is great."
The race runs on Sunday, March 11. For tickets, visit gpstpete.com.