The Verizon IndyCar Series kicks off its 2014 season this weekend with the Firestone Grand Prix in downtown St. Petersburg. While four-time series champion and fan favorite Dario Franchitti has called it quits, the race will welcome back former Indianapolis 500 winner and CART series champion Juan Pablo Montoya, joining former Indy car champions Sebastien Bourdais, Tony Kanaan, Ryan Hunter-Reay and three-time and defending series champion Scott Dixon.
For the uninitiated, the race weekend in downtown St. Pete is unlike anything you've ever seen. As you approach the city via the interstate or suburban streets, you literally can feel the vibrations of the high-powered race cars zooming through the area around the Dali Museum, the Mahaffey Theater and Albert Whitted Airport. Upon entering race village, fans get a prime opportunity to get up and close to these monstrous machines and the brave souls who drive them.
The race is run on a 14-turn, 1.8-mile temporary racing circuit that uses streets we civilians use to get to and from work or the university, as well as part of an airport. With the city's skyline and adjacent harbor providing a scenic backdrop, the stars of the Verizon IndyCar Series will race for 110 laps.
ABC will have a live telecast of the event on Sunday, March 30, with pre-race at 3 p.m. ET. The green flag will fly at 3:27 p.m.
To make things easier for planning, we've laid out the schedule and the events for you right here:
Downtown St. Petersburg, Florida
1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street course
The circuit incorporates streets of downtown St. Petersburg and a section of runway of Albert Whitted Airport.
After the long front stretch, drivers face a tight right-hander into Turn 1 and then a quick left-hand turn. These spots have always been prime locations for fans to watch due to drivers geting into trouble in these two turns over the years. There are two other long straights with braking zones that afford opportunities to overtake other drivers.
FRIDAY March 28, 2014
8:00am - 6:00pm GATES OPEN
8:00am Practice USF2000
8:35am Practice Pro Mazda
9:20am Practice Pirelli World Challenge
10:00am Practice Verizon IndyCar Series
12:15pm Practice Stadium Super Trucks
1:00pm Practice Indy Lights
2:00pm Practice Verizon IndyCar Series
3:00pm Practice USF2000
3:35pm Practice Pro Mazda
4:20pm Practice Pirelli World Challenge
6:30pm 5K RUN Wish for Our Heroes 5K
Presented by Modern Business Associates
SATURDAY March 29, 2014
8:00am - 6:00pm GATES OPEN
8:00am Qualification Pirelli World Challenge
9:00am Practice Indy Lights
10:00am Practice Verizon IndyCar Series
11:00am Qualification USF2000
11:45am Qualification Pro Mazda
12:30pm Race #1 Stadium Super Trucks
1:15pm Qualification Indy Lights
2:00pm Qualification Verizon IndyCar Series
3:25pm Race #1 Pirelli World Challenge
4:40pm Race #1 USF2000
5:35pm Race #1 Pro Mazda
SUNDAY March 30, 2014
8:00am - 6:00 PM GATES OPEN
8:50am Race #2 USF2000
9:45am Warm-Up Verizon IndyCar Series
10:30am Race #2 Pro Mazda
11:25am Race #2 Pirelli World Challenge
12:45pm Race Indy Lights
2:00pm Race #2 Stadium Super Trucks
2:35pm Pre-Race Activities IndyCar Series
3:20pm Race Verizon IndyCar Series
WISH for OUR HEROS (W4OH) and HERO ZONE
For the second consecutive year, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is proud to welcome WISH for OUR HEROS, a national charitable organization that allows men and women of the United States military to improve the quality of their family lives while at home or on deployment. In addition to sending active-duty military to the race, W4OH will deploy for the first time in St. Petersburg its popular HERO ZONE — a free, interactive military obstacle course designed by the troops for children of all ages. Bring the children and have them test their skills on some of the same obstacles the troops face in basic training. The HERO ZONE is located inside of Gate 1, next to the Speed Zone.
WISH for OUR HEROES 5K Run
Are you a runner or jogger? Looking to support a good cause? The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg offers residents and tourists alike another way to join in on the festivities while supporting a good cause and enjoying a behind-the-scenes look at the iconic St. Petersburg downtown temporary street course. Participate in the Wish for Our Heroes 5K Run presented by Modern Business Associates on Friday, March 28 at 6:30 p.m. All proceeds benefit Wish for Our Heroes. Register on line at www.gpstpete.com.
Ferris Wheel in honor of the late Dan Wheldon
The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg has partnered with the Alzheimer’s Association, Florida Gulf Coast Chapter to bring fans a truly uplifting experience. This year, the Ferris Wheel offers fans a way to give back in honor of the late Dan Wheldon. Dan made his home in St. Petersburg with his wife Susie and sons Sebastian and Oliver. The family was and remains a strong supporter of the Alzheimer’s Association and their efforts to educate the community, provide support to those living with the disease and find a cure for Alzheimer’s.Proceeds from the purchase of a ride on the 80-foot Ferris Wheel go directly to the Alzheimer’s Association in Dan’s memory. You can even view the race from atop the 80’ Ferris Wheel.
The Bright House Networks Speed Zone
· Caricature / Air Brush artists
· Boxer Jocks
· Rock Climbing Wall
· Power Jump
· Mechanical Bull
· Pit Stop Challenge
· Official Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and INDYCAR merchandise kiosks
Easily accessible via Gate 1, the Bright House Networks Speed Zone will also host the various autograph sessions to take place during the weekend, including the IndyCar driver session on Saturday from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.
The IndyCar Fan Village
The IndyCar Fan Village hosts numerous displays from the various sponsors of the race. Find out more about the sponsors and what they do to provide excitement all season long. The IndyCar fan zone is located by gate 1, next to the Bright House Networks Speed Zone.
To learn more about the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and to purchase tickets for any of the events, visit gpstpete.com, like its Facebook page at facebook.com/GPSTPETE or follow the event on Twitter, @GPSTPETE, #FirestoneGP.
2013 James Hinchcliffe
2012 Helio Castroneves
2011 Dario Franchitti
2010 Will Power
2009 Ryan Briscoe
2008 Graham Rahal
2007 Helio Castroneves
2006 Helio Castroneves
2005 Dan Wheldon
2003 Paul Tracy
#2 Juan Pablo Montoya (Bogota, Colombia) Chevrolet/Team Penske
#3 Helio Castroneves (Sao Paulo, Brazil Chevrolet/Team Penske
#7 Mikhail Aleshin (Moscow, Russia) Honda/Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
#8 Ryan Briscoe (Sydney, Australia) Chevrolet/Chip Ganassi Racing
#9 Scott Dixon (Auckland, New Zealand) Chevrolet/Chip Ganassi Racing
#10 Tony Kanaan (Salvador, Brazil) Chevrolet/Chip Ganassi Racing
#11 Sebastien Bourdais (Le Mans, France) Chevrolet/KVSH Racing
#12 Will Power (Toowoomba, Australia) Chevrolet/Team Penske
#14 Takuma Sato (Tokyo, Japan) Honda/A.J. Foyt Enterprises
#15 Graham Rahal (New Albany, OH) Honda/Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
#17 Sebastian Saavedra (Bogota, Colombia Chevrolet/KVAFS Racing
#18 To Be Announced Honda/Dale Coyne Racing
#19 Justin Wilson (Sheffield, England) Honda/Dale Coyne Racing
#20 Mike Conway (Bromley, England) Chevrolet/Ed Carpenter Racing
#25 Marco Andretti (Nazareth, PA) Honda/Andretti Autosport
#27 * James Hinchcliffe (Toronto, Canada) Honda/Andretti Autosport
#28 Ryan Hunter-Reay (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) Honda/Andretti Autosport
#34 Carlos Munoz (Bogota, Colombia) Honda/Andretti-HVM
#67 Josef Newgarden (Hendersonville, TN) Honda/Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing
#77 Simon Pagenaud (Montmorillon, France) Honda/Schmidt Peterson Hamilton
#83 Charlie Kimball (Camarillo, CA) Chevrolet/Chip Ganassi Racing
#99 Jack Hawksworth (Bradford, England) Honda/BHA/BBM