• Sunshine City Kids

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg with Kids: Know Before You Go

It’s loud, exciting, and more fun for the family than you might think.

Zoooom, zoooom, zoooom. That notorious buzzing sound we hear all over the Sunshine City is not a swarm of bees (although a very close resemblance ) but is the speeding cars signaling the start of Grand Prix week here in St. Pete.


The waterfront streets of downtown St. Petersburg (and part of Albert Whitted Airport’s runway) close for this prestigious IndyCar Series race — the season opener for the ninth consecutive year — featuring three days of practices, qualifying rounds, and races between Pioneer Park and Albert Whitted Park, plus lots of other related events.


While the racing festivities may seem like they’re geared toward the grown-ups, this is one of our favorite family-friendly events of the year. Here’s a look at some of the events leading up to the weekend plus some tips for ensuring a safe and fun time with the little ones at the Grand Prix this March 13 - 15.


Race-Related Events


Kart 4 Kids Pro-Am Kart Race

Wednesday, March 11, 3:00pm

The 9th Annual Kart 4 Kids Pro-Am Race takes place on Turn 1 of the Firestone Grand Prix track. Professional drivers Sebastien Bourdais and Patrick Long headline the event. General admission tickets are $20, and proceeds benefit Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.


IndyCar Party in the Park

Thursday, March 12, 6-8pm, North Straub Park

Kick off the NTT IndyCar Series season at this free event open to the public. The party will feature driver appearances, prizes, food trucks, race cars on display, and fireworks (starting at 8:30pm).


Fast Friday at Sundial

Friday, March 13, 6-9pm, Sundial St. Pete

Join Sundial St. Pete for a night celebrating the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. There will be live music, photos with a race car, and specials from select retailers.


MBA 5K Run on the Firestone Grand Prix Track

Friday, March 13, 6-9pm

Run along the Grand Prix track at the 8th Annual Modern Business Associates 5K Run benefiting the Police Athletic League of St. Petersburg and American Stage. Packet pick-up takes place Thursday, March 12 at Rococo Steak.


Grand Prix Movie in the Park

Friday, March 13, 6:30pm, North Straub Park

“Embrace the Race” and celebrate Grand Prix weekend with the City of St. Petersburg at this free event. A kids’ boxcar activity and DJ begin at 6:30pm; Turbo plays on the big screen at 7:30pm.


Grand Prix Weekend


Friday

The gates open at 7:45am on Friday, March 13 and close at 5:30pm. Expect to see practice races and qualifying rounds, autograph sessions, and fun in the Speed Zone — interactive displays and racing simulators for fans of all ages. There are some local businesses giving away free tickets for this day. If you do a quick search, you may be able to find some. Full schedule.


Saturday

On Saturday, March 14, practices and qualifying rounds continue with a few races, including the Porsche GT3 Cup and Indy Pro 2000, scheduled for the day. Gates are open from 7:45am until 5:30pm again. Full schedule.


Sunday

Sunday, March 15 is the main event of the weekend. On this day, see the NTT IndyCar Series warm-up beginning at 10:25am, the Pre-Race Ceremonies at 2:55pm, and the NTT IndyCar Series Race starting at 3:30pm. Full schedule.


Pro Tips


  • Check the weather and pack appropriately. Don’t forget the sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses (or maybe even a poncho if it looks like rain is in the forecast). Umbrellas and strollers are permitted.

  • Hydrate. No outside food or beverages are allowed in the gates without advanced notice in the case of food allergies/medical conditions. Water and food options are located throughout the grounds (just be prepared to pay big event prices).

  • Protect your ears. We highly suggest ear protection for the little ones. If you forget, ear plugs are available for purchase at the race.

  • Stay healthy. We’re all aware of the suggested increase in health and safety protocols amid COVID-19 concern, so bring hand sanitizer or wipes for extra protection. Additional hand sanitizing and hand washing stations will be located throughout the event site.

  • Wear comfy shoes. Expect to walk. A lot.

  • Plan ahead. Know where to park or hop on a shuttle or trolley, when to cross the track, and how to find everything on the official Grand Prix map beforehand.

  • Tickets. Junior Tickets are available for children ages 12 & under; children under age 24 months do not require a ticket. And keep your eyes peeled for those free Friday general admission tickets around the city at select retailers.


Traffic Detours


According to StPete.org, the following downtown streets are closed or have limited access to traffic through race weekend:


Closed – Beach Dr. from Central Avenue to First Avenue S

Closed – First Street from First Avenue S. to Fifth Avenue S

Closed – Albert Whitted Park, motorized and pedestrian traffic

Limited Access – On Second Avenue S. from First to Second Street S

Limited Access – First Street S. from Fifth Avenue S to Eighth Avenue S

Limited Access – Sixth Avenue S. from Second Street to First Street


Get more information or purchase tickets at gpstpete.com.

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