Grand Prix of St. Pete: Drivers love the track and the city

ST. Pete gears up for the 2014 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The opening race to the INDYCAR season.
ST. Pete gears up for the 2014 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The opening race to the INDYCAR season.

For the tenth straight year IndyCars will scream through the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida at nearly 200 mph.

Since 2005, St. Pete, normally known for yachts, beaches, and the Dali Museum, has transformed its waterfront into a temporary racetrack, a tricky 1.8-mile, 14-turn concrete-lined course which punishes any lack of precision and rewards bravura overtaking maneuvers

For the fifth year Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be the first race of IndyCar’s season and what is very clear is that the drivers love the track and the city. Over the past two years I have interviewed most of the INDYCAR drivers and when asked about their favorite street race courses the names of St. Petersbug and Long Beach are always at the top of the list.

Scott Dixon like that the course is well thought out and tests the drivers in a fair way. Tony Kanaan, thinks that the race has a European feel to it, while Marco Andretti loves how the crowds really get into the race making for a fun way to start off the season.

As for the city again it gets high marks for how well the race is run and how fans embrace the drivers and all the race activities.

Here are some of the 2o14 Indycar headlines that all start this weekend.

Let’s start with the cars they will be fitted with brand new updated Honda or Chevrolet engines which make more horsepower and promise more speed and excitement.

2014 will see the return to a super team for veteran Tony Kanaan. The popular driver has signed on to be part of the powerful Target-Ganassi team alongside three-time series champion Scott Dixon, while former IndyCar and F1 star Juan Pablo Montoya has returned to the series, joining the equally powerful Penske Racing squad, where he teams up with Helio Castroneves and Will Power.

The third leg of the IndyCar power-team triad, Andretti Autosport, brings back 2012 champ Ryan Hunter-Reay with Marco Andretti and 2013 St. Pete GP winner James Hinchcliffe, plus rookie sensation Carlos Munoz, who qualified and finished second in the 2013 Indy 500.

It should be a wild season and all the fun begins Sunday in St,Petersburg.