A motorhome trip of a lifetime should be on everyone’s to-do list, but it can take a special event to make it worthwhile. Fortunately, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg certainly is. This annual GP event is a season opener for the IndyCar Series and brings some of the world’s best drivers to St. Petersburg, Florida.
The race takes place in the downtown streets of the city, with a temporary course spanning several blocks and one runway of the Albert Whitted Airport. Thousands of fans descend upon the area to experience IndyCar automotive action at its finest.
But a grid full of petrol-powered engines is not all that will bring spectators in their droves. The area also experiences a week of festivities, including celebrity athletes, live entertainment, beer gardens, games, a speed zone, and even a fan village. It’s all on in St. Petersburg!
And if you need to take a break from the whooping and hollering, cheering, and engine revving, then there are plenty of other things to do in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Museum of Fine Arts appeals to those with a passion for the finer things in life, while Williams Park is a stunning public green space worth your exploration too. Walking at Vinoy Park, shopping at Sundial St. Pete, and traversing the four acres of botanical gardens at Sunken Gardens are all worthwhile activities.
Spring will soon be here, so put on your best racing supporter’s gear, gather your loved ones, and set off in the direction of St. Petersburg, Florida.
The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is a top-rated event, and not one you will want to delay purchasing your tickets. Racing fans can choose from general admission passes, grandstand tickets, pit passes, and single or multiple-day tickets. In the past, ticket prices have varied from between $25 to $150, with a separate charge for the RV Club.
The Pinellas County city of St. Petersburg in Florida is a sizeable city in the Tampa Bay Area that commonly goes by the name of the Sunshine City. It often logs the most sunshine hours and days in a year and averages 361 days in a year with at least a little sunshine. As a result, your journey into the area from any direction will likely be a warm one.
Those traveling from Tampa, Fort Myers, and Orlando will be able to access St. Petersburg from US-19, Gandy Bridge, and Howard Frankland Bridge. If you’re unfamiliar with the area, Florida boasts its very own traffic website to lend a helping hand, FL511.
Access to the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is via Tampa, Clearwater, and Sunshine Bay Bridge. The track starts at 1st Street South and 5th Avenue South. Always keep left on 5th Avenue South, and enter through Gate 1 and Gate 5.
The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is held on a temporary circuit around the Yacht Basin and Albert Whitted Airport. There is plenty of parking in the general St. Petersburg area, but limited event parking.
A parking pass can ensure you’re within a short walking distance of the track, but metered spots, garages, and local parking lots often cater to fans with pilot vehicles and RVs on the day. Remember to note the size of your motorhome or Airstream when planning to park. You can also jump aboard the downtown looper trolley and parking shuttle if you are not parking your RV within a convenient walking distance.
If trying to find a parking space large enough for your motorhome is something you'd rather avoid in the crowds, then have you thought about your public transportation options? From trolley and shuttle services that have been low-cost for this event in the past, to rideshare providers and taxis, there are options galore.
Jump aboard the water taxi from the St. Petersburg Sailing Club, or ride your cycle on the city’s magnificent cycle routes before parking it in the designated bike parking zone. You will be astounded by all the different options.
Onsite camping at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is a desirable option for anyone with a Sprinter, pop-up, Airstream, or similar. However, spaces are limited. The RV Club is located between the start/finish line and Turn 14, along the south side of the front straightaway. There is a waitlist to get an RV Club space for primitive RV camping, so consider having a back-up plan if you aren’t able to secure a spot.
St. Petersburg may be one of the most populated cities in the area, but you would be surprised at how naturally it caters to RV-goers. If you need somewhere to stay with an RV that’s still reasonably close to the race track, then you are in luck. There are plenty of RV parks and resorts in a 20-mile radius of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
If you want to enjoy both beach access and quick access to the IndyCar racing, then St. Petersburg/Madeira Beach KOA Holiday is always a popular option. Remember, the best RV accommodation in St. Petersburg, Florida, sells out fast, so don’t hesitate to secure your spot in advance.
Once you enter the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg through Gate 1 or Gate 5, you can then get ready for wheel-to-wheel racing action that won’t disappoint. Getting around on foot is a breeze, but it’s essential to be aware of your surroundings at all times. There are vendors near the grandstands, plenty of excellent vantage points, and information services throughout.
Make sure you are aware of estimated track crossing times so that you can be ready to cross at a moment’s notice.
St. Petersburg, Florida, isn’t called the Sunshine City without reason! Even in spring, when temperatures usually fluctuate, you can expect plenty of glorious weather. Pack those shorts, t-shirts, and sundresses with confidence. However, that doesn’t mean rain won’t grace the area. Inclement weather has seen the shortening of this event in the past, so pack wet weather gear as a “just in case” measure.
Camping and cooking equipment are must-haves to keep in your RV as you travel around Florida but pop it in your RV storage area once you reach the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. You may bring umbrellas, handheld devices, scanners, cameras, binoculars, and seat cushions, but nothing large, damaging, or dangerous that could impact the viewing experience. Don’t forget your cash and payment cards for vendor purchases.
It might be spring, but that doesn’t mean your summer sun safety supplies won’t come in handy. Lather on the sunscreen and chapstick, don your favorite race supporter cap, and stay hydrated. If you are in the hospitality and grandstand areas, then refrain from smoking and using tobacco.
Those who can’t access their RV at a moment’s notice may also like to bring prescription medication if they need it, as well as any toiletries, first-aid supplies, and convenience items. A small bag will be allowed through security to house all those tiny, finicky items.
From fresh seafood to fruit kebabs and everything in between, an RV trip to Florida allows you to flex your creative muscles come dinner time. Prepare your favorite snacks and dishes onboard your RV, or check with your accommodation host to see if you can light a barbeque or traditional campfire.
If you’re chomping at the bit to indulge in local cuisine, then pick up a few supplies at one of the many markets within a few blocks of the race track in downtown St. Petersburg.
When the checkered flags have been waved, and everyone has left the area, you may be ready to explore this beautiful Florida city in search of delicious food. From haute cuisine and fast food, through to bakery delights and bar meals, you are spoiled for choice. Downtown St. Petersburg through to Gandy Boulevard is a treasure chest of established eateries waiting to take your order.
If you thought restaurants in Florida were worthy of a postcard home, then you’d be astounded at the vendor offerings at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, as well. Indulge in American fare, Latin, European, Asian, seafood, and everything in between. Even gyros are on the menu, as well as traditional stadium fare that may remind you of football games from home.
Bring cash as the most convenient payment method, but some vendors will accept credit and debit cards. There are also ATMs dotted around the track for convenience. You will not be able to bring in your own food and beverages, but vendor delights surely beat soggy sandwiches anyway.
When you enter the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg through Gate 1 or Gate 5, security will greet you with a big, friendly smile. Patrons are asked to open backpacks, bags, and purses. Anything that could be dangerous or distracting is prohibited for the race duration.
If you have any questions or concerns, approach a security official. You can also request police assistance at St. Petersburg Police Department within a two-mile drive of the Albert Whitted Airport.
The Sunshine City of Florida rarely lets fans down when it comes to primo race day weather. However, there have been times in the past when races have been cut short due to inclement weather. Tickets are non-refundable and non-exchangeable, but organizers make every effort to ensure the race continues in rain or shine. If you are not sure what to expect on your travels, then download a weather app and hope it’s in your favor.
Stubbed toes, skinned knees, illnesses, or accidents, can all be quite inconvenient while you’re on vacation. Fortunately, while you’re in Florida for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, help is never too far away. There are several first aid points dotted around the race track, including north of the grandstands, north of Al Lag Stadium, and near Mahaffey Theater.
You can also dial 911 in an emergency, locate any race official for assistance, or travel to the nearest hospital within three miles of the South Yacht Basin.