After appearing at a public event over the weekend to commemorate the beginning of construction of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg track, Dragon Racing IndyCar driver Sebastien Bourdais is looking forward to this year's round of improvements to the waterfront street and airport circuit.
"It looks very different when there aren't any concrete blocks or anything," said St. Petersburg resident Bourdais, who is testing his Dragon Racing Dallara-Chevy today at Sebring in preparation for the IZOD IndyCar Series season opener March 22-24. "It's a racetrack that is not very invasive on the neighborhood so it's a good setup to insure the continuity of the event. It's a challenging track and getting bumpier every year, which is what you would expect from a street course. There are sections that are very technical and unforgiving."
Over the next 35 days, about 250 workers will transform 20,000 feet of steel-reinforced concrete blocks, 44,000 feet of chain-link fencing and more than 12,000 tires into a demanding and entertaining racing circuit that features a 2,350-foot frontstretch on an airport runway. The promoter group, in conjunction with IndyCar, will have workers grind the curbing at Turn 12 to lessen its severity. They'll also erect eight spectator grandstands and other infrastructure.
Bourdais, who enters his second season in the No. 7 Dragon Racing car, will seek to make his third start at St. Pete. He earned the pole in the lone Champ Car event on the waterfront course (2003), but was an early retirement from last year's race.
"It's been a long offseason; my last race was Baltimore," noted Bourdais, who competed only on road and street courses in 2012 following the Indianapolis 500, after the team's midseason switch from Lotus engines to Chevrolets. "I'm looking forward to racing at St. Pete soon."