Story and photo by Steve Zongker
For years the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg was my start to the racecar season.
When I moved to Tampa back in 2004, I actually was a volunteer for the race weekend, and my post was in the area between turns six through nine.
I was always fond of the fact that there were numerous different races and series during the weekend, and that still happens to this day.
This year there was the Verizon IndyCar Series, Mazda Road to Indy, Pirelli World Challenge Championships, and the SPEED Energy Stadium Super Trucks.
Before noon on Saturday there were 6 events that had taken place and lots of activities in the paddock and pit areas keeping both teams and fans moving around.
One of the things that kept catching my attention was the pit equipment for the IndyCar Series teams. Every single team up and down the pit lane has top of the line pit equipment, from the fueling rigs down to the cabling on the pit boxes.
Teams like Penske and Andretti Autosport have dedicated members to keep all of that equipment working to their utmost performance not unlike the cars and drivers.
It was a privilege for me to attend a press conference that Tony Kanaan held in the media center. TK was discussing his “TK 20” initiative for his 20th season in IndyCar.
TK20 is a project where Tony wants to give back to the fans that have supported him over the past two decades of racing in America. He plans on coming to the cities and tracks that the IndyCar series goes to, and getting to know what drives the fans.
Kanaan said, “There are some cities, where all I know is the track…and the airport.”
Other plans include giveaways, and hopefully be able to sell items such as the hat he wore during the press conference as seen in the photo in this article.
Being one of this writer’s favorites, seeing TK very relaxed and jovial especially after just getting out of the car less than half-an-hour earlier, was enjoyable. Kanaan regaled the media with stories from both past and present.
Let’s hope that the season of TK20 goes spectacularly well for Kanaan. He deserves all the accolades he has received over the past 20 years and however many more years he gives the fans of motorsports.
Sunday’s Indycar race was spectacular, as local hero Sebastian Bourdais came from last on the starting grid, to win the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
As all the fans exited the track on the streets of St. Petersburg there was a palatable buzz that hopefully continues throughout the entire IndyCar season.
This week, we get to put the wraps on the 36 Hours of Florida, as the IMSA teams head to 12 hours of Sebring. This is will be exciting to see what battles the DPi and P2 classes bring to the runways and straights of the historical Sebring race track.