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The event kicks off on March 9 and lasts through Sunday. There will be 11 total races during the weekend with the 110-lap IndyCar race set for Sunday, March 11 around 12:30 p.m. Additional information on each race can be found at the Firestone Grand Prix website.
An estimated 400,000 people have flooded the City of St. Pete for fast Indy cars and greasy food. The city says more than $48 million comes to downtown bars and restaurants during the Firestone Grand Prix which runs through city streets downtown
The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is the 15th Indy car race on the streets of St. Petersburg. Sebastien Bourdais, who makes his home in St. Petersburg, won the race last year. Paul Tracy won the inaugural race on Feb. 23, 2003, under CART sanction, while Bourdais started from the pole that year. The St. Petersburg Indy car race has been run every year since 2003 with the exception of 2004. No driver has competed in every St. Petersburg race, but Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan have started 13 straight races. Sebastien Bourdais and Ryan Hunter-Reay competed in the first race in 2003.
Josef Newgarden of Team Penske begins defense of his 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series championship at St. Petersburg. Newgarden captured his first series title in his first season with Team Penske, winning four times. Now he aims to be Team Penske’s first repeat champion since Gil de Ferran captured back-to-back CART championships in 2000 and 2001.
“I still have to pinch myself when I think about going to St. Pete as the Verizon IndyCar Series champion.” said Newgarden “Any driver that gets an opportunity, like the one I got with Team Penske, will tell you they expect to win right away. I certainly did as well, but I think we were all surprised at how quickly we gelled together and made it happen. But that is last year. The drive for the 2018 championship starts at St. Pete, and it’s a track where I’ve never won before. That is our only thought this weekend: going to Victory Lane.”
David Madera runs a bar and restaurant just feet from the racetrack, Madera says he’s felt the financial impact of the race first hand.
“It adds about 25-30 percent of what we would normally do,” Madera said.His staff prepares well in advance for the extra foot traffic, for one of their most successful weekends.Out of the $48 million spent, The City of St. Petersburg did a study, they estimate seeing around $4 million in tax revenue.