Make us your home page

Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Taking kids to Grand Prix race? We've got tips



grandprix.jpgThe Honda Grand Prix roars into St. Petersburg this weekend with Indy cars, Mazdas, Acuras and other fast cars whipping through the streets of downtown. The course is 1.8 miles long and contains 14 turns, with cars reaching 130 mph. If you plan to check it out with kids, we've got some tips for you.

Your first stop should be Thursday's Illuminated Night Parade, which is the nighttime Festival of States parade. It kicks things off Thursday at 7 p.m. with floats, bands, beads and fireworks. This year will feature the always-daring Indianapolis Motorcycle Drill Team, the Budweiser Clydesdales and many of the Grand Prix drivers including Simon Pagenaud, Katherine Legge and Jay Howard. The parade starting point is Central Avenue and Fifth Street N in downtown St. Petersburg. Free.

But then comes the races. We asks some veteran racegoers how to enjoy this with kids in tow and here's their suggestions:

• Bring earplugs, especially for kids (most drug stores in town are already stocking up). For the littlest kids, get over-the-ear muffs to protect them from the high-volume noise.
• Wear sunscreen and comfortable shoes to do a lot of walking.
• Don’t sleep in: Events start at 8 a.m. Friday through Sunday, with the big Izod IndyCar Series race at 12:30 p.m. Sunday. See for a complete schedule.
• One of the best places to watch, especially with kids, is Pioneer Park (Turns 8 and 9 of the race). There, you can sit on a shaded bench, or bring a blanket to sit on the lawn for a relaxed atmosphere, because they’re slowing down for turns. It’s also near the Bright House Speed Zone with activities for kids. But just know that the noise is so loud, you can't even talk to the person next to you.
• Turn 10 by the Dali Museum is another good spot because you see the cars speeding toward you, and you get a nice breeze off the water.
• For older kids consider paddock passes to get a close-up view of the cars and the crews. Car teams usually have hero cards at their “garage” area you can get for free. Many drivers will give autographs, but some may have significant lines and crowds.
• A good place to glimpse drivers is the “Gasoline Alley” area between grandstands 06 and 07 between the Dali Museum and the ceremonies stage. Many drivers walk through that area to get to the paddocks.

Race essentions:

When: Thursday through Sunday at various locations from 30th Street to the Pier in downtown St. Petersburg.
Thursday: Practice runs start at 5:35 p.m. followed by the Festival of States Parade at 7:30 p.m.
Friday: Practices and qualifying, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday: Qualifying and races, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday: Qualifying and races 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Tickets: Tickets range in price from $20 to $125. Paddock passes are also available starting at $40 for an adult single day pass. Reduced rate tickets are offered to ages 12 and under, in certain ticket categories. Tickets can be purchased online at or by phone at (877) 283-5385.

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

Follow us on Twitter @WhoaMomma

[Last modified: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 2:50pm]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours