Every year, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding is one of the biggest events in the Sunshine City, bringing a four-day festival of fast cars, hot food, cold drinks, and some of the world’s best IndyCar drivers to downtown. And while the races themselves are the main attraction (single-day tickets are still available, by the way), the experience goes far beyond the races for those of us living in the Burg – see the full breakdown at the bottom of this page.
While festivities have technically been taking place for over a month, Grand Prix weekend officially kicks off on Thursday night with Party in the Park (more on that below), as North Straub Park is turned into a huge – and – free celebration from 5:30-8:30 pm.
Plus, as part of their Show Car Program, the 2023 Firestone Grand Prix presented by RP Funding has been visiting more than 40 locations throughout St. Pete, bringing a vintage Indy car and a new model Firestone INDYCAR racing machine to a variety of events, restaurants and more. Catch their last one on March 2 at Tropicana Field for the Tampa Bay Rays spring training game.
St. Pete Grand Prix hosts a Party in the Park
Now that race week has arrived, the party gets started even before the driving does (though you’ll be able to hear that familiar humming all week). In fact, the first people to race on the track will do so by foot instead of car. The Wellcare Ambetter Health 5K on the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Track takes place Thursday, March 2, allowing participants to run a 5K route along the track (registration available here). If you haven’t been inside the gates of the Grand Prix before, it truly is wild to see city streets, parks and landmarks transformed into a high speed raceway. All proceeds from the event will benefit The Police Athletic League of St. Petersburg, supporting its many programs positively impacting local children and teenagers.
Even if you’re not in the mood to run, be sure and stop by the Party in the Park on Thursday night from 5:30-8 pm, as well. North Straub Park will be turned into a massive kickoff party for the 2023 Firestone Grand Prix, complete with Indy cars, race cars from the other support series, live entertainment, food and drink, and a celebration for the runners.
Don’t want to deal with driving or parking downtown? Try taking the SunRunner for free.
Race days bring a full-on festival to downtown St. Pete
Of course, the race days themselves still merit discussion, even if you don’t consider yourself a big race fan. Just the thrill of seeing cars fly by at max speed on a street that you typically walk down is worth the price of admission, even if you have no idea who’s driving or what lap they’re on. But beyond the races, the entire grounds of the Grand Prix take on a festival environment for the duration of the weekend.
Most of the area is, in fact, taken up not by bleachers, but by walkable and explorable areas alongside and in between the track. More than 50 displays and exhibitors fill the spaces around the raceway, along with dozens upon dozens of food trucks, drink stands, grilled goodies, fried treats, and cold cocktails and beer.
Our personal favorite is the Horse Soldier Bourbon Waterside Club, a floating dock packed out with great whiskeys and cocktails, right alongside the action between Turns 10 and 11. That said, the Stella Artois Party Pit might be the most unique experience of the bunch, as Grand Prix-goers can get right behind pit lane and watch the cars come in for servicing and exit smoking the tires. Both experiences are available to General Admission ticket holders.
Eat, drink and celebrate during race weekend
We should also mention one of the cooler experiences, which is the open garage and paddock area, where cars are brought between races for upkeep, repairs and maintenance as crew members and drivers come in and out to work on and prepare the cars. That experience is open to all ticket holders on Friday and available for purchase for Saturday and Sunday.
Learn more about the 2023 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding at gpstpete.com, where single-day and weekend tickets are on sale now. Tickets start as low as $25.