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St. Pete starts conversion to grand prix course


Published:   |   Updated: February 25, 2014 at 06:30 AM

ST. PETERSBURG - The annual transformation of St. Petersburg's quaint waterfront into a high-speed grand prix circuit is underway.

Preparations began on the weekend for the Firestone St. Petersburg Grand Prix at the end of March, the 10th edition of the race that opens the 2014 Indy Car series. The 110-lap event loops around many city landmarks including Pioneer Park, the DukeEnergy Center for the Arts, the Salvador Dali Museum and onto the runways at Albert Whitted Airport.

Roughly 250 workers will take 333 days to deploy 20 million pounds of concrete, 44,000 feet of chain-link fence and more than 12,000 tires to protect the estimated 130,000 spectators along the 1.8-mile circuit.

When complete, the circuit will include eight grandstands, six race-car paddocks and four bridges over the course.

"It brings unprecedented exposure for our great city," Deputy Mayor Kanika Jelks Tomalin said in announcement today at Bay Shore Drive S.E. and First Avenue S.E., a part of the course. "It will be broadcast by four outlets to more than 200 countries."

Last year's winner, James Hinchcliffe, said the views of the city's waterfront with views of the marina and Tampa Bay make the event special for drivers.

"The track is genuinely one we enjoy driving regardless of where you place it," he said. "You happen to put it in this beautiful city with this gorgeous backdrop."

The race takes place during the weekend beginning March 28. Tickets are available here or by calling 1-877-283-5385.

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