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Streets of St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg, FL

Home of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

4.9

4.4

Streets of St. Petersburg (map it)
300 Bayshore Dr SE
St. Petersburg, FL 33701


Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg website

Streets of St. Petersburg website

Year Opened: 2003

Capacity: 25,000

There are no tickets available at this time.

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St Pete Still Rocks

There is still the buzz in my head of cars in downtown St. Petersburg. This really is the race that has it all. Location, action and excitement, ease of access for fans, and the best overall buzz from the locals! This is their Super Bowl! Add to this the amount of races you actually get to see over the weekend, and you have one of the most jam-packed race weekend schedules around.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about this race weekend is the small touches that the event and their staff make seem like pedestrian occurrences at a traditional speedway.

If you go to this race, you will want to come back.

4.9

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    5

Fun fact: St. Pete is a foodie's heaven hidden away in beautiful Western-Central Florida. The race itself has some of the most amazing smelling and greatest tasting food vendors at any sports event in the country. The sound of sizzling peppers and beef on the griddle mixes with the scent of fresh seafood as one walks the concourses and sidewalks of the downtown circuit.

If you're looking for something to eat, you will find it at the Grand Prix of St. Pete. There is a wide variety of traditional American stadium fare mixed with everything from Latin, seafood, European, and Asian food options.

Freshly-made gyros that cost less than $10? Yes please!

In addition, the track whizzes past some brilliant food options just steps away in downtown St. Petersburg.

Another often overlooked thing that makes this race a must-see is that the vendors are spread out evenly throughout the track. No matter if you are in the RV parking area, resting along the waterfront, wandering the main grandstand behind pit road, or deep in downtown's Pioneer Park, there is food available all over the place. Add to that the wandering beverage sellers on golf carts that have everything from water to cold beer, and you are guaranteed to not have to look far to satisfy your palette.

Atmosphere    5

The fans in St. Pete know their racing. When drivers were introduced during the 2016 IndyCar race, they cheered and booed with the best of them. When Montoya took the lead, the entire place went up in a giant roar!

The races are action-packed and easy to follow, thanks to the well thought-out layout of the track. It incorporates easy to access locations from both the inside and outside of the course, giving fans the best vantage point, no matter where you are wanting to see the race from.

In addition, the quality of the racing on track is right there with the best of them, as both the big names of the IndyCar Series take the track, along with drivers in lower divisions craving the opportunity to show the world what they can do.

Without a doubt, the Stadium Super Truck Series is the most entertaining form of racing one can ever see, as these giant monster-truck-esque off road racers take to the streets of St. Pete's road course...with JUMP RAMPS!

Neighborhood    5

St. Petersburg is a growing city on the rise. It is a mix of vacationers, college students (USF has a campus literally steps away from the track), and professionals mixing with both city and suburban folks.

The neighborhood around the track is evolving into a high quality of life location that features some of the best hole-in-the-wall eateries you can imagine, with traditional shopping and dining (CVS, Publix, and others are there to help your shopping needs).

Hotels and resorts vary from motels a few blocks away to the beautiful Hilton in the heart of downtown that puts you steps away from the main gate. There are also a SpringHill Suites and Hampton Inn just steps away. Fair warning though to all fans looking to book a room for the coming race; book them ASAP! Rooms go very fast, and the prices rise the closer you get to the event for everywhere near the track. From northern Tampa to Bradenton to the south, it is hard to find a room unless you have set it up over six months in advance.

Not to be forgotten, the people there are gracious, kind, and welcoming, making even the most travel-weary fan at the races feel like they're right at home.

Situated right on the beautiful waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the beach is right next door to the track, just a few minutes' drive away. Often rated among the greatest beaches in the country, relaxation under the sun is easier than ever.

Fans    5

Rude fans won't be found here. This is easily one of the most family-friendly racing crowds anyone can see. Not only that, but they're also series-intelligent. They know all the drivers, all the teams, and why each one is better or worse than the next.

They cheer at the top of their lungs, they applaud close racing and impressive moves, and they oooh and aaah throughout the weekend.

Nobody cuts in line when waiting to cross the pedestrian bridges or getting their favorite driver's autograph.

As far as sports fans go, the crowd at St. Pete is among the best there is.

Access    4

This is the ONLY complaint one may have about the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. But even with the limited parking, it isn't hard to find a place to park on race day. There is a large contingent of fans who arrive at the track via bike, as evidenced by the massive bicycle parking racks at the entrances that are completely full by the time the main event begins on Sunday.

Getting to the track is as easy as possible, with I-175 and I-375 branding off of I-275, literally ending on the street in downtown St. Pete that leads to the main entrance. How much easier is it to find than that?

If you don't have a parking pass, there are plenty of local parking lots, garages, and metered spots that one can access (prices range from $10 to $40, depending on how close, but even ones right by the entrances average $20, which is shockingly low for a big event like this).

Something new, however, that adds to the options one has in 2016 is the beginning of flights into Albert Whitted Airport, the very airport that the track uses as part of the course layout. Flights on Tropic Airlines leave from Fort Lauderdale, FL and land at Albert Whitted Airport for the round-trip price of $199, with additional flights to and from the Bahamas already in progress, adding flights to New York's smaller regional airports in the coming year.

Return on Investment    5

Let us analyze what you get for the price of admission (which can range from $50 to upwards of $100, depending on your ticket options). You get some of the best racing in the business between six racing series (with multiple classes in the Pirelli World Challenge split into four total races over the weekend) that often include more than one race over the event's schedule.

You get to see the season opener for the IndyCar Series, the nation's premiere open-wheel racing series.

Robby Gordon's Stadium Super Trucks race twice during the weekend, which is worth the price of admission itself (no, seriously...most entertaining 30-minute race you will ever see in your life).

And you get to watch this all in one of the most underrated beautiful cities in the country? How can you say no?

Extras    5

Remember the small touches? This is what really impressed me at this race.

When walking in to the track, you are greeted by smiling track staff and volunteers who offer you colorful beads, a pack of sunscreen, a track and race guide, a hand-held fan, and earplugs...FREE! None of this is free at any other sports event you will go to. Heck, a pair of ear plugs will cost you upwards of $3 at a NASCAR race.

In addition, your ticket offers you free admission to the garage and paddock area for the IndyLights, Star Mazda, F-2000, Pirelli World Challenge, and Stadium Super Trucks series, offering you up-close access to the drivers, cars, and teams.

Also, the weekend features several autograph sessions for all the series, giving fans the chance to see their idols up close.

Another awesome bonus is the myriad of displays at the track. From the IndyCar Series fan zone to the Tampa Bay Rays obstacle course, there is no shortage of fun things to do at the track.

Perhaps one of the neater aspects of the race is also the party patio on the water in the middle of the marina. A short walk over a pedestrian bridge and down onto a floating platform, this bar on the water floats along and is free to all fans in attendance.

One of the best places to party, however, is the RV lot, located along the front straight on the airport.

Yes, you read that right...airport. Part of the course and garage area takes over a portion of an airport in St. Pete. Even cooler still...one of the runways remains open during the weekend, with everything from helicopters (you can buy rides in them during the race weekend), small private prop planes, to Coast Guard Blackhawks taking off and landing during the races.

Final Thoughts

The Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is still one of the best sporting events for a fan in all of America, let alone in just the racing circles. It is hard to beat the city, time of year, the product in front of you, and the fan access this event gives. It is hard to find a race track with a better fan experience than the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. This yearly event signals the start of the season for four racing series and the continuation of two others, all while fans watch under the warm sun and the sea breezes that St. Pete offers.

Whether you're watching from the balcony of a high-rise, the grandstands along the track, the walkway next to the Dali Museum, or the party platform on the water, you will be hard-pressed to find a better place to watch quality racing.

Nice review

I'm in no way a car race fan but this review peaked my interest. It's an excellent read.

by megminard | Jun 04, 2012 08:58 PM

Paddock Pass Necessary?

Driving from Ft. Lauderdale to St. Pete for the race this year. If Friday is FREE, will we be able to get into the Paddocks? Trying to save as much as possible. If I can get in Friday, no sense in paying for Saturday??

by olmturtu | Feb 12, 2013 12:26 AM

RE: Paddock Pass Necessary?

Hi there,

From my experiences of going on all days (including the Monday makeup day from the rain-out in 2010), I believe you still need a 3-day paddock pass for any and all days, even the Friday free day. However, since policies could change, check out http://www.gpstpete.com for the most-updated info.

Jim

by StPeteRays | Feb 12, 2013 12:12 PM

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Crowd Reviews

High Octane Fun in the Sun

Total Score: 4.14

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 3
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 5

If you've read any of my reviews before, you've probably seen me extol the virtues of the high-energy city that St. Petersburg has become in both my Tropicana Field and Al Lang Stadium reviews. So, hosting an international event billed as "the world's fastest spring break party" seems like it'd fit right into St. Pete's M.O. as of late. This third incarnation of the track in downtown St. Pete centers around Al Lang, the Mahaffey Theater, new Dalà Museum, and Albert Whitted Airport, though this wasn't always the case.

Racing has been in St. Pete for over two decades, starting in 1985 with the SCCA Trans-Am Series on a track similar to today's, but focusing more on the northern part of the waterfront, going by the St. Pete Pier and the Vinoy Hotel, then returning north by the Mahaffey. After complaints by the neighbors, though, those races were ended after 1990. Upon returning to St. Pete in 1996, the track was moved to the streets around the Trop, but due to the inferior condition and lack of difficulty of the new circuit, the event was cancelled in 2000.

The current track was built to bring the highest level of road-specific racing in the US, Champ Car, to St. Pete, and it was successful in 2003. However, after financial difficulties, 2004's race was cancelled, and in 2005, the competing racing series, the Indy Racing League, took control of the circuit, making it the first non-oval in its history. Today, the IRL has since bought-out the Champ Car series and has a 50/50 mixture of ovals and road/street courses, thanks in large part to this track in the Sunshine City; as a nod to its part in the unification of open-wheel racing in the US, the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is now the opening race in the League's schedule.

The Unofficial Crown Jewel of Indy

Total Score: 4.43

  • Food & Beverage: 5
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 3
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 5

October 16, 2011, and March 25, 2012: the end of one era and the beginning of another.

October 16, 2011, was to be a celebration. It was to be a goodbye to an old body-style that served IndyCar so well for over a decade, complete with the crowning of the series champion. This was enhanced with a $5 million bounty, presented to anyone who wasn't a regular in the series but could still win that season's finale; Dan Wheldon was the only one to take up the challenge, and even though IndyCar was the only top-level racing home he ever knew, 2011 was a year in which he was unable to get a ride. Other than racing in the Indianapolis 500, he spent his downtime helping to develop and test the new body-style for IndyCar, which they named the DW12 (Dan Wheldon 2012) in his honor for all his help. If he were to win - and by winning the 2005 and 2011 Indianapolis 500s, he knew he could - he'd split the money with a lucky fan. The night was set to be the perfect ode to IndyCar's past, present, and future.

Except, the race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway turned tragic on the 11th lap when Wheldon, trying to avoid a crash, rode over top of Charlie Kimball's car, sending Wheldon's 77 into the fence and exploding in a fiery mass.

Dan Wheldon, aged 33, died from his injuries that day, and the race was never completed; a five-lap yellow-flag tribute of the 20 still-running drivers honoring Wheldon was played out, but then it was all packed up and taken home under the saddest cloud imaginable.

After an offseason of fine-tuning the DW12 to ensure that type of accident can never happen again, a new era began in St. Petersburg on March 25, 2012. The new cars, for the first time, would be put under the microscope of a bona fide race. but no one forgot Dan Wheldon that day. Not only was he well-loved by his fellow drivers, as happenstance would have it, Wheldon decided to settle in St. Pete many years prior and the city of 250,000 had also felt his loss since that fateful day.

But in keeping with his upbeat attitude even during a year when he was a free agent, the race, and subsequent party St. Pete has become during the eight years prior, must go on. So, the atmosphere, while reflective, was more-festive than ever, and the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (as it was called until late 2013, when Firestone took over the naming rights) showed yet again why it's, after the Indy 500, the unofficial crown jewel of the Indy Racing League.

Grand Prix In The Streets Of Paradise

Total Score: 4.71

  • Food & Beverage: 5
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 3
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 5

The Grand Prix of St. Petersburg offers race fans the perfect mix of everything that a downtown street race should be. It features the setting in paradise by the water, a stellar track layout, close racing, and great seating.

Add to this the amount of races you actually get to see over the weekend, and you have one of the most jam-packed race weekend schedules around.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about this race weekend are the small touches that the event and their staff make seem like pedestrian occurrences at a traditional speedway.

If you go to this race, you will want to come back.

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Local Food & Drink

Central Avenue Oyster Bar  (map it!)

249 Central Ave

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 897-9728

http://centralaveoysterbar.com/

Ferg's Sports Bar and Grill  (map it!)

1320 Central Ave

St Petersburg, FL 33705

(727) 822-4562

http://fergssportsbar.com/

Burrito Boarder  (map it!)

17 3rd St N

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 209-0202

http://www.burritoboarder.com/

Ceviche Tapas Bar & Restaurant  (map it!)

10 Beach Dr NE

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 209-2302

http://www.ceviche.com/

The Hangar Restaurant & Flight Lounge  (map it!)

540 1st St SE

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 823-7767

http://www.thehangarstpete.com/

Kahwa Coffee  (map it!)

204 2nd Ave S

St. Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 821-1942

http://www.kahwacoffee.com/

Courigan's Irish Pub  (map it!)

1 Beach Dr SE

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 551-9019

http://www.yelp.com/biz/courigans-irish-pub-saint-petersburg

Local Entertainment

PUSH Ultra Lounge  (map it!)

128 3rd St S

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 871-7874

http://www.pushlounge.com/

Jannus Live  (map it!)

16 2nd St N

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 565-0550

http://www.jannuslive.com/

State Theatre  (map it!)

687 Central Ave

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 895-3045

http://www.statetheatreconcerts.com/

Florida Holocaust Museum  (map it!)

55 5th St S

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 820-0100

http://www.flholocaustmuseum.org/

American Stage Theatre Company  (map it!)

163 3rd St N

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 823-7529

http://www.americanstage.org/

Museum of Fine Arts  (map it!)

255 Beach Dr NE

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 896-2667

http://www.fine-arts.org/

Mahaffey Theater  (map it!)

400 1st St S

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 892-5798

http://www.mahaffeytheater.com/

Salvador Dali Museum  (map it!)

1 Dali­ Blvd

St. Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 823-3767

http://www.salvadordalimuseum.org

St. Petersburg Museum of History  (map it!)

335 2nd Ave NE

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 894-1052

http://www.spmoh.com/

The Bishop Lounge  (map it!)

260 1st Ave N

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 564-3628

http://bishoptavernandlounge.com

Chihuly Collection presented by Morean Arts Center  (map it!)

400 Beach Dr NE

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 896-4527

http://www.moreanartscenter.org/chihuly/

Lodging

Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront  (map it!)

333 1st St S

St. Petersburg, FL 33701

(866) 601-2397

http://www1.hilton.com/en_US/hi/hotel/SPTSHHF-Hilton-St-Petersburg-Bayfront-Florida/index.do

Renaissance Vinoy Resort & Golf Club  (map it!)

501 5th Ave NE

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 894-1000

http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/tpasr-renaissance-vinoy-resort-and-golf-club/

Courtyard Marriott St. Petersburg Downtown  (map it!)

300 4th St N

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 450-6200

http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/tpasd-courtyard-st-petersburg-downtown/

Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown  (map it!)

80 Beach Dr NE

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 892-9900

http://www.stpetehamptonsuites.com/

Ponce de Leon Hotel  (map it!)

95 Central Ave

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 550-9300

http://www.poncedeleonhotel.com/

The Cordova Inn  (map it!)

253 2nd Ave N

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(800) 735-6607

http://www.thepierhotel.com/

The Inn on Third  (map it!)

342 3rd Ave N

St Petersburg, FL 33701

(727) 894-3428

http://www.theinnonthird.com/

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