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Start your engines: A fan’s guide to the Grand Prix

Tribune staff
Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 08:32 AM
ST. PETERSBURG -

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More than 100,000 people are expected in town this weekend for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which will be broadcast to race fans in more than 200 countries.

Fans will get to see four other races this weekend, including the USF2000, ProMazda, Firestone Indy Lights and the Pirelli World Challenge.

Race weekend officially begins Friday, with practice runs starting at 8 a.m. The qualifying runs start Saturday, as do those other races, and they all wrap up Sunday.

New this year at the Grand Prix are a go-kart track and air show. Fans can check out classic sports cars on Saturday and Sunday, meet the drivers and get autographs. The event also will feature live music, games, exhibits and a Ferris wheel.

The action will happen along the downtown waterfront, with a 1.8-mile track stretching from Pioneer Park to Albert Whitted Airport.

Despite the Grand Prix’s massive footprint downtown, there’ll be plenty to do outside the circuit — whether you’re interested in the race or not.

Ceviche, which fronts the track at Central Avenue and Beach Drive, will host parties throughout the weekend and is always a popular spot to watch the cars fly by.

The city is putting up additional signs to direct people to shops and restaurants along Beach Drive and Central Avenue looking to capitalize on the race. The city’s museums will also be open, including The Dalí, which is inside the race track and will offer discounted admission of $10. But you have to buy a race ticket to see those surrealist masterpieces.

Here are some tips to make the most of the race this weekend:

General admission adult tickets are $35 for Friday-Saturday, $50 for Sunday or $135 for the entire weekend.

Tickets for children 12 and younger range from $25 to $100. Order at 1-877-283-5385 or www.gpstpete.com. There’s a $10 charge for tickets at the box office. Gates open at 8 a.m.

Ceviche will host parties Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $10 Friday and Saturday. Ground-level admission to the Sunday party is $15. Second-floor VIP seats are $30.

Ferg’s Sports Bar and Grill, at 1320 Central Ave., will host a free watch party starting at noon Sunday with drink specials and prize giveaways.

Following the race, Cassis American Brassiere, at 170 Beach Drive N.E., will host an afterparty with drivers and pit crews. Admission is $10.

NBC will broadcast the Grand Prix starting at noon Sunday.

City parking garages will charge $5 Friday and $10 on Saturday and Sunday. Although some spaces around the race track will be closed off, many on-street spots will be available along sections of Beach Drive and Central Avenue. The city will put up signs indicating where parking is available.

There also will be a free park-and-ride shuttle at Tropicana Field from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Lots 1-4. Trolleys will also offer rides for 50 cents downtown.

For information on official race events, visit www.gpstpete.com.

For parking and city-related information, visit www.stpete.org/grandprix or visit the mobile site at www.stpete.org/mobile/gplist.htm.

On Twitter, follow #GPSTPETE or @GPSTPETE.


jboatwright@tampatrib.com

(727) 215-1277

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