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DATE News (chronologically)
03/17/11
irl
St. Pete street circuit almost ready
Workers were putting the finishing touches on the downtown street course Thursday for next week's Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.  The event, which runs March 25 to 27, includes racing in several series, highlighted by Sunday's Honda Indy Grand Prix.

But before drivers can start their engines, workers needed to set up the 1.8-mile, 14-turn course, fencing, tents and seating. The route snakes through the downtown waterfront and includes the runway at Albert Whitted Airport.

"Just the view and going down ... the water in the background and just the challenge of this track.  It's very nice," driver Davey Hamilton said.

There will be plenty for fans to see and do outside the track fences, including the Red Bull Air Show, said Tom Ramsberger, general manager of the event.

The Red Bull show "is new to us," he said.  "There will be a stunt plane, a stunt helicopter and there will be a jump team."

Although there are no concerts this year, the Indy Racing League will debut the IZOD IndyCar Village, an area between turns 4 and 5, where fans can interact with drivers and teams and test their skills in racing simulators.

The Acura Yacht Club returns after a one-year hiatus, and as in 2009, will have a floating bar with big-screen TVs that is open to the public. There's also the new Trackside Club, a temporary two-story structure that will house corporate hospitality for the first time.

"We also have the Budweiser Clydesdales that are going to be on property with us this year," Ramsberger said.

Hamilton said he appreciates IndyCar racing, which is heavy on street racing and includes multinational teams and drivers.

"We have a lot of Europeans and Brazilians, really; their background is road and street racing.  Where here, in America, it's really oval racing.  It's getting that mix together and finding that person who can do all of them the best."

Tickets range from $30 for an adult single-day general admission to $110 for a three-day upper seat admission.  For information, go to www.gpstpete.com.

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