The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg won’t be pumping the brakes anytime soon. On Wednesday, St. Petersburg City Council voted unanimously to extend the city’s contract with Green Savoree Racing Promotions, the company that owns and operates the race.
According to a news release, the two-year extension means the Grand Prix will continue to thrill spectators and showcase St. Pete’s downtown waterfront through 2026. City Council made a similar move in 2019 when it extended the agreement with Green Savoree through 2024.
First run in 2003, the Firestone Grand Prix, usually held in mid-March, has traditionally opened the IndyCar racing season. Only three times — in 2010, 2020 and this year — has it not been the circuit’s first event of the year.
In 2020, the Grand Prix was canceled at the last minute because of the Covid-19 pandemic and then rescheduled for October, becoming the grand finale of the IndyCar season. This year, the race was held later than usual, on April 25.
According to the release, the Grand Prix will return to its traditional calendar slot in 2022 and the years to come. The dates for the next five races are:
- March 10-13, 2022
- March 9-12, 2023
- March 7-10, 2024
- March 6-9, 2025
- March 12-15, 2026
“I am thrilled that the Grand Prix will be in the Sunshine City through 2026,” St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman said in a prepared statement. “I want to thank City Council for recognizing the importance of this race in St. Pete. I also want to thank Kim (Green) and Kevin (Savoree), and everyone at the Grand Prix for not only organizing and promoting one of our city’s best events year after year, but for their dedication to our community.”
The 2021 Grand Prix was won by 21-year-old Colton Herta, a California native who recently bought a house in Belleair. Herta led 97 of the race’s 100 laps, breaking the record held by Helio Castroneves, the winner of this year’s Indianapolis 500. The St. Pete area is also home to Sebastien Bourdais, an accomplished IndyCar driver who won the Grand Prix in 2017 and ’18 and finished 10th in this year’s edition.
In past years, the race’s 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary waterfront circuit would block off sections of some downtown streets for up to 40 days, prompting pushback from business owners. According to the release, however, this year the track was built in 25 days and torn down in six, and the city’s “Embrace the Race” campaign has highlighted the event’s economic value to the area. For example, in 2019 the race was estimated to have produced about $2 million worth of media exposure.
“There is no better backdrop than downtown St. Petersburg and its picturesque waterfront for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg to showcase the NTT IndyCar Series,” said Kim Green, co-owner, chairman and CEO of Green Savoree, in a prepared statement. “The success and continued growth of the event has only been possible with the overwhelming support and collaboration with the City of St. Petersburg’s councilors, Mayor Kriseman and his fantastic team.”