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Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
GPStPete logo.png
St. Petersburg street & airport racing circuit.svg
IndyCar Series
LocationSt. Petersburg, Florida, U.S.
27°45′59″N 82°37′45″W / 27.76639°N 82.62917°W / 27.76639; -82.62917
Corporate sponsorFirestone
First race1985
First ICS race2003
Distance1.8 mi (2.9 km)
Previous namesSt. Petersburg Grand Prix (1985–1990)
Kash n' Karry Florida Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (1996–1997)
Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (2005–2013)
Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (2014–present)
Most wins (driver)Hélio Castroneves (3)
Most wins (team)Team Penske (9)
Most wins (manufacturer)Chassis: Dallara (15)
Engine: Honda (9)
Circuit information
Length1.8 mi (2.9 km)
Lap recordUnited States Alexander Rossi (1:01.7244, Dallara DW12, 2018, IndyCar Series)

The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is an IndyCar Series race held in St. Petersburg, Florida. Since 2009, the race has served as the season opener, with the exception of 2010, when it was the second race of the season (but the first on U.S. soil), and 2020, when the race instead served as the final race of the season. The race is held annually in the spring, currently in March.

The race takes place on a temporary course, utilizing downtown streets, and one runway of Albert Whitted Airport. The event dates back to 1985, with IndyCars first competing in 2003.


The SCCA Trans-Am Series held a race on a St. Petersburg downtown waterfront circuit from 1985 to 1990. Can-Am also competed in 1985. Local residents and businesses complained about noise, and the event was eventually put on hiatus.[1] Driver Jim Fitzgerald was killed in a crash during the 1987 race.[2][3] Racing in the Tampa Bay Area was then moved across town for a couple years. An IMSA race at the Florida State Fairgrounds was held in 1989 and 1990.

From 1996 to 1997, the St. Petersburg race was revived on a different course around Tropicana Field (about one mile west of the original waterfront course). Along with the Trans-Am Series, support races included U.S. FF2000, World Challenge, Pro SRF and Barber Dodge. The event subsequently went again on hiatus for several years.[1]

In 2003, the event was revived again for the Champ Car World Series. A new, modified version of the original 1985 waterfront circuit was created.

For 2004, the event was cancelled due to a dispute between the promoters, furthermore, the bankruptcy and liquidation of the CART series into the new Champ Car World Series saw a shakeup of the calendar. When the race returned in 2005, it switched to the IndyCar Series, marking the first non-oval event for the Indy Racing League. In 2007, the race weekend was expanded to include an American Le Mans Series event.

Andretti Green Promotions would later take over promotion of the event.[4] Starting in 2014, Firestone took over as title sponsor.[5]

Past winners

Season Date Driver Team Chassis Engine/Aero Kit Tires Race Distance Race Time Average Speed
Laps Miles (km)
Champ Car World Series history
2003 February 23 Canada Paul Tracy Forsythe Racing Lola B02/00 FordCosworth XFE Bridgestone 105 189.63 (305.179) 2:04:28 91.401 Report
2004 Not held
IndyCar Series history
2005 April 3 United Kingdom Dan Wheldon Andretti Green Racing Dallara Honda Firestone 100 180 (289.681) 2:09:54 83.14 Report
2006 April 2 Brazil Hélio Castroneves Team Penske Dallara Honda Firestone 100 180 (289.681) 1:56:58 92.34 Report
2007 April 1 Brazil Hélio Castroneves (2) Team Penske (2) Dallara Honda Firestone 100 180 (289.681) 2:01:07 89.166 Report
2008 April 6 United States Graham Rahal Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing Dallara Honda Firestone 83* 149.4 (240.435) 2:00:44 74.251 Report
2009 April 5 Australia Ryan Briscoe Team Penske (3) Dallara Honda Firestone 100 180 (289.681) 2:12:27 81.542 Report
2010 March 29* Australia Will Power Team Penske (4) Dallara Honda Firestone 100 180 (289.681) 2:07:06 84.975 Report
2011 March 27 United Kingdom Dario Franchitti Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Honda Firestone 100 180 (289.681) 2:01:00 89.26 Report
2012 March 25 Brazil Hélio Castroneves (3) Team Penske (5) Dallara DW-12 Chevrolet/UAK-12 Firestone 100 180 (289.681) 1:59:51 90.113 Report
2013 March 24 Canada James Hinchcliffe Andretti Autosport (2) Dallara DW-12 Chevrolet/UAK-12 Firestone 110 198 (318.65) 2:22:13 83.539 Report
2014 March 30 Australia Will Power (2) Team Penske (6) Dallara DW-12 Chevrolet/UAK-12 Firestone 110 198 (318.65) 2:06:58 93.572 Report
2015 March 29 Colombia Juan Pablo Montoya Team Penske (7) Dallara DW-12 Chevrolet/CAK-15 Firestone 110 198 (318.65) 2:16:58 86.735 Report
2016 March 13 Colombia Juan Pablo Montoya (2) Team Penske (8) Dallara DW-12 Chevrolet/CAK-16 (5) Firestone 110 198 (318.65) 2:13:28 89.006 Report
2017 March 12 France Sébastien Bourdais Dale Coyne Racing Dallara DW-12 Honda/HAK-16 Firestone 110 198 (318.65) 2:04:32 95.391 Report
2018 March 11 France Sébastien Bourdais (2) Dale Coyne Racing (2) Dallara DW-12 Honda/UAK-18 (9) Firestone 110 198 (318.65) 2:17:48 86.207 Report
2019 March 10 United States Josef Newgarden Team Penske (9) Dallara DW-12 Chevrolet/UAK-18 (6) Firestone 110 198 (318.65) 2:04:18 95.572 Report
2020 October 25 United States Josef Newgarden (2) Team Penske (10) Dallara DW-12 Chevrolet/UAK-18 (7) Firestone 100 180 (289.681) 2:06:12 85.872 Report
2021 April 25 Dallara DW-12 Chevrolet/UAK-18 (8) Firestone Report
  • 2008: Race shortened as a result of inclement weather at the start forcing the race to start on Lap 10 after nine Safety Car laps. Shortened by ESPN under time limit.
  • 2010: Race postponed from March 28 due to inclement weather.[6]
  • 2020: Race postponed from March 15 to October 25 and shortened to 100 laps due to coronavirus pandemic.
  • 2021: Race postponed from March 7 to April 25 due to coronavirus pandemic.
  • UAK = Universal Aero Kit
  • CAK = Chevrolet Aero Kit
  • HAK = Honda Aero Kit

Support series past winners

Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tire

Stefan Wilson driving along the Bay Shore Drive Southeast section during the qualifying race of the Indy Lights 2011.
Stefan Wilson driving along the Bay Shore Drive Southeast section during the qualifying race of the Indy Lights 2011.

Atlantic Championship

Season Date Winning Driver
1985 November 3 Riley Hopkins
1986 November 16 Scott Goodyear
1987 November 7 Johnny O'Connell
1988 October 23 Jocko Cunningham
1989 October 29 Jocko Cunningham
1990 November 4 Brian Till
Source: [7]

American Le Mans Series

Overall winner in bold.

Season LMP1 Winning Team LMP2 Winning Team GT1 Winning Team GT2 Winning Team Report
LMP1 Winning Drivers LMP2 Winning Drivers GT1 Winning Drivers GT2 Winning Drivers
2007 United States #1 Audi Sport North America United States #6 Penske Racing United States #4 Corvette Racing United States #62 Risi Competizione report
Italy Rinaldo Capello
United Kingdom Allan McNish
Germany Sascha Maassen
Australia Ryan Briscoe
United Kingdom Oliver Gavin
Monaco Olivier Beretta
Finland Mika Salo
Brazil Jaime Melo
2008 United States #2 Audi Sport North America United States #7 Penske Racing United States #4 Corvette Racing United States #71 Tafel Racing report
Germany Marco Werner
Germany Lucas Luhr
Germany Timo Bernhard
France Romain Dumas
Monaco Olivier Beretta
United Kingdom Oliver Gavin
Germany Dominik Farnbacher
Germany Dirk Müller
2009 United States #9 Patrón Highcroft Racing Mexico #15 Lowe's Fernández Racing No entry United States #45 Flying Lizard Motorsports report
Australia David Brabham
United States Scott Sharp
Mexico Adrian Fernández
Mexico Luis Díaz
No entry United States Patrick Long
Germany Jörg Bergmeister

Stadium Super Trucks

Year Date Driver Ref
2014 March 29 United States Robby Gordon [8]
March 30 United States P. J. Jones
2015 March 28 United States Sheldon Creed [9]
March 29 United States Burt Jenner
2016 March 12 United States Sheldon Creed [10]
March 13 United States Keegan Kincaid
2017 March 11 United States Robby Gordon [11]
March 12 Australia Matthew Brabham [12]

SCCA Trans-Am

Dan Wheldon memorial plaque located adjacent to the course layout.
Dan Wheldon memorial plaque located adjacent to the course layout.
Season Date Driver Team Car Race Distance Race Time Average Speed Report
Laps Miles (km)
1985 November 3 United States Willy T. Ribbs Roush Racing Mercury Capri 50 100 (160.934) 01:15:05 79.910 mph (128.603 km/h) Report
1986 November 15 United States Pete Halsmer Roush Racing Mercury Merkur XR4Ti 50 100 (160.934) 01:15:09 79.838 mph (128.487 km/h) Report
1987 November 15 United States Pete Halsmer Roush Racing Mercury Merkur XR4Ti 50 100 (160.934) 02:06:24 47.462 mph (76.383 km/h) Report
1988 October 23 Germany Walter Röhrl Audi of America Audi 200 Quattro 63 125.999 (202.777) 01:38:09 77.0207 mph (123.9528 km/h) Report
1989 October 29 United States Irv Hoerr Oldsmobile Cutlass 63 125.999 (202.777) 01:42:55 73.459 mph (118.221 km/h) Report
1990 November 4 United States Chris Kneifel Chevrolet Beretta 63 125.999 (202.777) 01:47:11 70.535 mph (113.515 km/h) Report
1991-1995, Not held
1996 February 25 United States Ron  Fellows Chevrolet Camero 63 106.470 (171.346) 01:18:13 70.535 mph (113.515 km/h) Report
1997 February 25 United States Tommy Kendall Ford Mustang 60 101.400 (163.187) 01:14:44 81.405 mph (131.009 km/h) Report
1998-2002, Not held
2003 February 23 United States Scott Pruett Jaguar XKR 55 99.330 (159.856) 01:16:06 81.405 mph (131.009 km/h) Report


  • 1985 Lou Sell

SCCA Super Vee

IMSA (fairgrounds)


The section of the 2012 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg that curves through the Al Lang Stadium parking lot
The section of the 2012 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg that curves through the Al Lang Stadium parking lot

The Streets of St. Petersburg course is a street circuit connecting existing roads with one of the two runways of Albert Whitted Airport in St. Petersburg, Florida. It also dips into the parking lot at Al Lang Stadium. St. Petersburg is classified as an FIA Grade Two circuit.[13]

First bayfront course

The original 1985 Trans-Am course utilized a similar layout to the course used today. For the first year the track actually ran out to the pier, made a 180 degree turn and returned. At the end of Bayshore Drive, rather than diverting off to the airport runways, the course circled around 5th Avenue Southeast around Bayfront Arena, and the start/finish line was located just south of the paddock (the parking lot of Bayfront Arena). In addition, the old course traveled further up Beach Drive Northeast, all the way to 5th Avenue Northeast. 5th Ave. NE was a very narrow segment. The course came south down Bayshore Drive Northeast, and passed by The Pier.

Tropicana Field course

The second course at Tropicana Field was located about a mile west of the waterfront location. The circuit used the roads around the perimeter of the parking lot of the stadium.

Second Bayfront course

Helio Castroneves approaches Dan Wheldon Way (Turn 10) on the final lap of the 2012 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
Helio Castroneves approaches Dan Wheldon Way (Turn 10) on the final lap of the 2012 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

When the course was reconfigured, the northbound segment turned at Central Avenue instead, and did not go as far as The Pier. The pits and main straight were moved to the airport, and a purpose-built paddock area was paved next to the runway. The Albert Whitted Park was reconfigured/relocated, and the entire course layout was repaved.

The pits and paddock areas, as well as link from Dan Wheldon Way to the airport runway (turns 11, 12, and 13) were constructed specifically for the circuit in 2003, and are considered permanent features of the otherwise temporary circuit.

After the crash at the 2011 Izod IndyCar World Championship that killed Snell Isle resident Dan Wheldon, who won the 2005 race and two Indianapolis 500 titles, the straight following Turn 10 (the turn from Bayshore Drive to Albert Whitted Park) was renamed "Dan Wheldon Way" in his memory. The sign and commemorative plaque was unveiled by St. Petersburg mayor Bill Foster on March 6, 2012. A permanent Dan Wheldon Memorial is located next to the Dali Museum on the opposite side of Turn 10, where race winners have their names placed on the memorial.[14]

Race summaries

  • 2006: Dario Franchitti won the pole, but was knocked out early due to mechanical failure. The race finished under the yellow flag after Tomas Scheckter and Buddy Rice hit the barrier with 4 laps to go. Roberto Moreno replaced Ed Carpenter for this race as Ed recovered from his injury's but finished 18th due to steering issues. Hélio Castroneves was the winner.
  • 2007: Pole winner Hélio Castroneves led 95 of the 100 laps, holding off Scott Dixon for the win by 0.6007 seconds, the closest finish on a road circuit in IRL history at the time. On the first lap, five cars were involved in a spin, including Tony Kanaan. In practice, Kanaan had crashed his qualified car, but the team made repairs so he could start in the 6th position rather than using a backup. The spin dropped him to the rear of the field. After a series of pit stops under yellow, Dan Wheldon took the lead. On a lap 35 restart, Castroneves bumped Wheldon from behind, and slipped by to take the lead for good. In the best run by a Foyt team in a few season, Darren Manning ran as high as third until a late spin dropped him to 13th. After the first lap spin, Tony Kanaan recovered to finish third.
  • 2011: The first race featuring the new double-file restarts takes a toll on the field as drivers adjust. On the first lap, a big collision involving several cars saw Marco Andretti flip over in turn 1, a crash he blamed on Hélio Castroneves.[16] Several other drivers experienced contact on restarts, thinning the field. Dario Franchitti stayed in front for most of the race and won the season opener. Simona de Silvestro garnered the most attention of the later stages of the race, as she hotly challenged Tony Kanaan. Kanaan, who had landed his ride with KV Racing just days earlier, held her off over the final few laps for a surprising third-place finish.
  • 2012: Hélio Castroneves won the season-opening event,[17][18] snapping a winless streak that dates back to Motegi in 2010. It was the first race for the new Dallara DW-12 chassis, and the new turbocharged engine package. Castroneves' victory marked the first win by Chevrolet in the IndyCar Series since 2005. It also marked the first race since the fatal accident of Dan Wheldon. Will Power took the lead from the pole position at the start, but during the first yellow, he ducked into the pits in order to gamble on a fuel strategy. The strategy backfired, and Power was not a factor during the remainder of the race. During the final sequence of pit stops, Castroneves and Scott Dixon were running 1st–2nd. Dixon pitted first on lap 72, and Castroneves pitted on lap later. As the rest of the leaders shuffled through their final pits stops, Castroneves made a bold pass of Dixon on the outside of turn 1 for second place. After the sequence of pit stops was over, Castroneves led the final 26 laps to claim the victory. On his victory lap, Castroneves stopped in turn 10, climbed from his car, and performed his customary "Spider-Man" celebration, climbing the catch fence. He climbed the fence which displayed the street sign "Dan Wheldon Way," which had been designated days earlier by the city of St. Petersburg in the memory of Wheldon.[19]
  • 2015: The season opener at St. Petersburg was also the debut of unique aero kits for Honda and Chevrolet. Apprehension amongst the teams going into the race revolved around the complex, elaborate, and seemingly fragile front wings, and the lack of adequate replacement parts. The concerns were not unfounded, as dozens of on-track contacts throughout the field damaged countless wing components. Will Power won the pole position, leading a Team Penske sweep of the first four positions on the grid. Power took the lead at the start, and led 75 laps. During the final round of pit stops, Juan Pablo Montoya grabbed the lead after he managed a quicker pit stop than Power. In the closing laps, Power chased down Montoya, and narrowed the gap to less than a second with 11 laps to go. Power tried to pass Montoya for the lead in turn 10, but the two cars touched, damaging Power's front wing. Montoya held the lead, and went on to win, his first road course victory in IndyCar racing since 1999.
  • 2016: Team Penske driver Will Power qualified for the pole, but was diagnosed with a concussion shortly after the conclusion of the session and was forced to miss the race. Oriol Servià filled in place of Power.[21] Second place qualifier Simon Pagenaud inherited the pole position. Pagenaud led the opening 48 laps before being passed by his teammate Juan Pablo Montoya. Montoya would lead 44 laps en route to his second win in a row at St. Petersburg. Rookie driver Conor Daly also led 15 laps during the race due to pit strategy, but was shuffled outside the top 10 by the end of the race. The race was slowed by only two yellows. The first came on lap 46 when Luca Filippi and Marco Andretti made contact in the first turn. The second came on the restart from the prior caution when Carlos Muñoz made contact with Graham Rahal in turn four, creating a logjam that completely blocked the race course.[22] After the race, Will Power was reevaluated and deemed not to have a concussion, but instead to be suffering from a lingering ear infection.[23] Power would be cleared to race for the following round at Phoenix International Raceway.
  • 2017: Sébastien Bourdais crashed during qualifying on his out lap, and was relegated to starting 21st and last.[24] Bourdais charged from last to first, the first win for Dale Coyne Racing since 2014. On lap 20, the first round of green flag pit stops began, with several drivers further down the order, including Sébastien Bourdais and Simon Pagenaud, being some of the first in. However, the race's second full-course caution came out in the middle of this pit sequence on lap 26, when Tony Kanaan and Mikhail Aleshin made contact in turn 4, littering the track with debris.[25] The caution forced the top seven drivers in the race to pit during the caution and lose large amounts of track positions. Following the pit stops, Pagenaud, Bourdais and Marco Andretti were running 1st-2nd-3rd. Bourdais got by Pagenaud on lap 37, and began to pull away. After the second and third rounds of pit stops, Bourdais emerged with a 10-second lead, and comfortably cruised to victory over Pagenaud and Scott Dixon.


Works cited


  1. ^ a b "St. Petersburg Grand Prix: City has had false starts with racing". St. Petersburg Times. February 21, 2003. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
  2. ^ "Trans-am Driver Killed In Crash During St. Petersburg Event". Sun-Sentinel. 1987-11-09. Retrieved 2013-07-14.
  3. ^ "Veteran driver Fitzgerald dies". Reading Eagle. Reading, Pennsylvania. November 9, 1987. Retrieved 2013-07-30.
  4. ^ Brassfield, Mike (6 April 2009). "Grand Prix is a winner for St. Petersburg". St. Petersburg Times. Archived from the original on 8 April 2009. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Auman, Greg (29 March 2010). "Grand Prix of St. Petersburg postponed until Monday". St. Petersburg Times. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Sinclair, Adam (March 16, 2015). "SPEED Energy Stadium Super Trucks Presented by TRAXXAS Returns to St. Petersburg Grand Prix for Two Races March 27-29". Speedway Digest. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  9. ^ Green, Chuck (April 1, 2015). "Speed Energy Stadium Super Trucks Rock Saint Petersburg". Off Road Xtreme. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  10. ^ "Team TRAXXAS Sweeps Stadium SUPER Trucks Weekend at Grand Prix of St. Petersburg". Speed Energy. March 13, 2016. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  11. ^ Nguyen, Justin (March 11, 2017). "SST: St. Petersburg Race #1 Recap". Overtake Motorsport. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  12. ^ Nguyen, Justin (March 12, 2017). "SST: St. Petersburg Race #2 Recap". Overtake Motorsport. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  13. ^ "List of FIA licensed circuits" (Press release). Federation Internationale de l'Automobile. December 14, 2018. Retrieved September 24, 2019.
  14. ^ "Street in St. Petersburg named for Dan Wheldon". Fox News. AP. 2012-03-07. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
  15. ^ a b c "Rahal's victory sets open-wheel record". 2008-04-06. Archived from the original on March 19, 2012. Retrieved 2008-04-08.
  16. ^ Long, Mark (March 27, 2011). "Franchitti wins IndyCar opener". Ann Caulkins; The McClatchy Company. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2011-07-26. Retrieved April 18, 2011.
  17. ^ Lewandowski, Dave (March 25, 2012). "Castroneves starts year with exuberant victory". Retrieved March 26, 2012.
  18. ^ "Helio Castroneves wins opener". ESPN. March 25, 2012. Retrieved March 26, 2012.
  19. ^ "Street in St. Petersburg named for Dan Wheldon". AP. Fox News. March 7, 2012. Retrieved March 26, 2012.
  20. ^ Lewandowski, Dave (March 24, 2013). "Hinchcliffe records 1st win in drama-filled opener". IndyCar Series. IndyCar. Retrieved April 1, 2013.
  21. ^ "Power diagnosed with concussion; Servia replaces him for St. Pete race". IndyCar Series. INDYCAR. March 13, 2016. Retrieved July 16, 2016.
  22. ^ "Montoya repeats trip to St. Pete victory lane". IndyCar Series. INDYCAR. March 13, 2016. Retrieved July 17, 2016.
  23. ^ "Thorough testing concludes Power does not have concussion". IndyCar Series. INDYCAR. March 16, 2016. Retrieved July 17, 2016.
  24. ^ Miller, Robin (March 11, 2017). "Power wins seventh St. Petersburg pole". St. Petersburg, Florida: Racer Media & Marketing, Inc. Archived from the original on 2017-03-13. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  25. ^ Malsher, David (March 14, 2017). "IndyCar opener felt 'fabricated' – Scott Dixon". Autosport. St. Petersburg, Florida: Motorsport Network. Retrieved March 18, 2017.

External links

Preceded by
Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama
IndyCar Series
Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
Succeeded by
Texas 300
This page was last edited on 24 February 2021, at 19:06
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