March 12, 2020 | 9:00 AM
In a statement made online just before the 10:00 AM hour on the east coast, the Mayor of St. Petersburg, Florida has called for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg to be held without fans this weekend.
Up until now, INDYCAR and the officials in St. Petersburg had maintained that this weekend’s festivities would continue as normally planned. At the end of Wednesday, adjustments had been made to the public autograph session scheduled for Thursday, and now the latest development bars fans from viewing on-track activity at the venue.
The statement came directly from Rick Kriseman’s Twitter account, shown below:
Yesterday I said the situation regarding the #coronavirus was fluid. I said that for a reason. Since yesterday, we’ve learned of a coronavirus case at an open-air event similar to ours, Bike Week. Then, at an EMS conference across the Bay from us. The @WHO has since called…— Rick Kriseman (@Kriseman) March 12, 2020
this a global pandemic. My most important job is public safety and health. It is for that reason that we are cancelling general attendance at the @GPSTPETE. We are working w/ the promoters and @IndyCar and will have more announcements later as to whether the race itself will run.— Rick Kriseman (@Kriseman) March 12, 2020
I don’t make this decision lightly. I strongly believe life must carry on, as best we are able. But the reality now is that’s just not possible. I am disappointed. I love this race. But I love this city and our residents more. Thank you for your trust.— Rick Kriseman (@Kriseman) March 12, 2020
In the hours that passed between the above-listed announcement and the 3:00 PM Eastern press conference led by the Mayor, speculation surrounding the race’s status overall was abuzz. Finally, a joint statement between INDYCAR and Green Savoree Racing Promotions – who conducts the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg – confirmed that the race will indeed be held this weekend.
The statement reads:
“INDYCAR and Green Savoree Racing Promotions, in conjunction with the city of St. Petersburg, announced Thursday that all activities surrounding Sunday’s season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be closed to spectators and limited to essential personnel only. This protocol is being put in place to protect the health and welfare of the fans, drivers, teams, workers and officials, as we mitigate the risk of exposure to COVID-19. The race weekend will operate from Friday through Sunday, with INDYCAR on-track sessions limited to Saturday and Sunday. The activities also include Road To Indy, IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup, and SRO Motorsports Group America on a condensed schedule. A press release with full details, including a revised schedule, will be issued with additional details later today.”
The race will still be aired via NBC Sports as originally planned, and a condensed schedule will guide race fans through the weekend with action limited to Saturday and Sunday. The schedule is shown below.
More information on ticket refund policies will be sorted out next week, according to Green Savoree Racing Promotions.
Header image by Karl Zemlin/INDYCAR.