St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch and past mayors named grand marshals of the 20th Annual Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding

 All four St. Petersburg mayors who have held the city’s top office since the inaugural Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding in 2005 will serve as grand marshals for the race event’s 20th annual running this weekend, March 8-10. 

Current St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch along with his predecessors Mayor Rick Kriseman (2014-2022), Mayor Bill Foster (2010-2014) and Mayor Rick Baker (2001-2010) will together give the command for drivers to start their engines before the NTT INDYCAR SERIES race on Sunday, March 10. This is the 14th time the series opens its season on the downtown streets of St. Petersburg. Coverage of the race will be televised nationally on NBC beginning at 12 p.m. ET.

“It’s an honor to celebrate the 20th annual Firestone Grand Prix as this year’s grand marshal, alongside former mayors (Rick) Kriseman, (Bill) Foster and (Rick) Baker,” said St. Petersburg Mayor Kenneth T. Welch. “For two decades, the Firestone Grand Prix has served as an economic driver for regional tourism and hospitality, putting St. Pete on the map for race enthusiasts across the globe. While it’s always exciting to watch the race from the grandstands, it’s even more thrilling to be a part of the festivities!”

“All four mayors have been incredible supporters and helped our event grow and flourish over the past 20 years,” said Kim Green, co-owner, chairman and CEO of Green Savoree St. Petersburg, LLC, organizers of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding. “My business partner Kevin (Savoree) and I are grateful to the entire City of St. Petersburg team and these leaders for their unwavering support. We are proud to recognize Mayor Ken Welch and past mayors Rick Baker, Bill Foster and Rick Kriseman as grand marshals as we celebrate two decades of INDYCAR racing on the streets of St. Petersburg!” 

Sunday’s pre-race festivities will also feature Grammy Award-winning Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Jon Bon Jovi. The legendary musician will ride in the “Fastest Seat in Sports” with three-time St. Petersburg race winner Helio Castroneves. The duo will lead the starting NTT INDYCAR SERIES field to the green flag following the command from the current and the three former St. Petersburg mayors. Additionally, the Pinellas County Center for the Arts Nova Vox Choir from Gibbs High School will perform the national anthem as four T-38s from the 80th Flying Training Wing from Sheppard Air Force Base fly overhead. 

The weekend festivities begin tomorrow night with the INDYCAR Party in the Park and the 5K Run on the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Track. INDYCAR Party in the Park will take place at North Straub Park from 5:00-7:30 p.m. ET. Free to the public, the third annual party will feature special guests, including NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers, music, giveaways, food and beverages. Race cars running on the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding weekend schedule will also be on display for fans to view up close.

The 5K will give runners and walkers the unique opportunity to race on the same course as the race cars. Participants can register at gpstpete5k.com with all proceeds benefiting the Police Athletic League of St. Petersburg. The race begins tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. ET, starts and ends on Bayshore Drive NE, adjacent to North Straub Park, and will join the race track at Turn 9 on Central Avenue. 

The 20th race celebrations continue on Friday night when Mayor Welch, and former mayors Baker, Foster and Kriseman along with most all past St. Petersburg race winners and fans gather for the “A Grand Prix Evening – Celebrating 20 Years of Champions” event at the Duke Energy Center for the Arts (Mahaffey Theater) from 7-10 p.m. Limited tickets are available at gpstpete.com/gpevening priced at $250 per person with all proceeds benefiting four local youth charities and education programs. On Saturday night (March 9th), the party continues as race event attendees with Saturday or weekend admission can access a live concert from legendary rock artist Bret Michaels at the track for no additional cost.

On track, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES will headline the action as the premier American open-wheel series opens its season in St. Pete for the 14th time on Sunday, March 10. The racing schedule will also feature the sport’s rising stars as INDY NXT by Firestone, USF Pro 2000 Presented by Continental Tire and USF2000 Presented by Continental Tire speed through the downtown streets. Additionally, the IMSA VP Racing SportsCar Challenge will showcase ultra-competitive Le Mans Prototype and Grand Touring 4 race cars in two 45-minute sprint races; this series will race on a street circuit for the very first time in its history.

Tickets are still available for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding, March 8-10, at gpstpete.com starting as low as $25. Follow the event on social media using @gpstpete and #FirestoneGP for the latest updates. Joining the E-Club also provides insider access to the latest news and offers.

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