Main / Anatomy of a car / The track / The drivers / A fan's guide / Parking & area info / Panoramic photos

printer version

City has had false starts with racing

By Times staff
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 21, 2003
Kash n Karry Grand Prix
[Times photo (1996) ]
The Kash n’ Karry Florida Grand Prix of St. Petersburg featured this World Challenge sportscar event as a support race to the Trans-Am series. The course ran around Tropicana Field, then known as the ThunderDome. Another edition was run in 1997.

While the local Sunshine Speedway has been an anchor of racing in St. Petersburg, here is a recap on some of the Grand Prix's notable forerunners:

St. Petersburg Grand Prix

YEARS: 1985-90.

CAR TYPE: Trans-Am series.

NOTABLE: Harold J. Kelley was the original event director but left in 1987 to start the Tampa World Challenge race. The competing events did each other in after their 1990 races. . . . The races encircled St. Petersburg's waterfront near the Bayfront Center, creating noise about which many business owners and residents complained. . . . The Sports Car Club of America was the sanctioning body. . . . Willy T. Ribbs led wire-to-wire in winning the inaugural race in 1985. Other winners were Pete Halsmer (1986), Scott Pruett (1987), Walter Roehrl (1988), Irv Hoerr (1989) and Chris Kneifel (1990). . . . Kneifel now is chief steward for the Champ Cars. . . . The 1985 event lost $2.3-million but moved into the black in 1987. . . . Driver Jim Fitzgerald, 65, a teammate of actor/racer Paul Newman, was killed when he crashed in the 1987 race. He was the winningest driver in Sports Car Club of America history.

Florida Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

YEARS: 1996-97.

CAR TYPE: Trans-Am series.

NOTABLE: Tom Begley, one of the lead organizers of the CART race this year, bought the assets of the St. Petersburg Grand Prix in bankruptcy court and resurrected the race. . . . The Sports Car Club of America was the sanctioning body. . . . The course covered 1.6 miles around Tropicana Field, then called the ThunderDome. . . . The 1996 event drew about 76,000 fans over three days. Attendance dropped to 74,000 in '97, though the race-day crowd of 36,000 was bigger than '96. . . . Ron Fellows won the 1996 race, and Tommy Kendall won in '97. . . . After losing title sponsor Kash n' Karry, International Management Group pulled the plug before the 1998 race.

Back to the St. Petersburg Grand Prix home page
Today's lineup
  • Taking it from the top
  • Race car drivers join 300 at inaugural Grand Prix ball
  • Rain won't halt races; grooved tires help
  • 'Clean zone' riles some downtown business owners
  • Surreal helmet suits Servia fine
  • Who's on TV
  • Channel broadens appea
  • Celebrities and racing
  • Mexican contingent reveres forerunners
  • Fit, fast ... and for real
  • The best of CART
  • The drivers
  • Fittipaldi a big boost
  • At a glance
  • Groomed to be a champion
  • A chance to prove their mettle
  • Getting to the races
  • Schedule and ticket information
  • Racing mechanic got his start in St. Petersburg
  • A racing dictionary
  • Foundation is old, but is it crumbling?
  • The CART-IRL split
  • The Vanderbilt Cup
  • CART history
  • City has had false starts with racing
  • Olvey's mission of safety earns acclaim
  • 2003 Florida calendar
  • A racer's racer, and a teacher to the stars

  • Lightning
  • Vinny poses for SI
  • Lightning's success in details

  • Rays
  • Fabregas knows place on team, if he gets one
  • Colome's outing is 'tremendous'

  • Bucs
  • Christy might be first cap casualty
  • Dungy: Bucs' win 'was bittersweet'

  • Other sports

    John Romano:
  • Tyson Freak Show in full swing again

  • Golf
  • From mediocre to meteoric
  • Funk's putter prowess earns clubhouse lead
  • TPC is reason Jack's playing

  • NFL
  • Jets cut ties with ex-Bucs

  • Baseball
  • Phils get visit from Alstott
  • Angelos calls for a ban on ephedrine

  • NHL
  • Roberts helps lift Leafs over Capitals

  • College basketball
  • Wake Forest protects spot at top
  • Duke routs Heels; ACC streak at 37

  • In brief
  • Capriati rolls into semifinals at Dubai

  • TV/Radio
  • Barkley not buying into Bryant hype

  • NBA
  • Payton, Allen in major trade

  • Motorsports
  • New tracks could take race from Rockingham

  • Preps
  • Slow start leads to Bulls loss
  • Stalwart defense carries Knights
  • Hooks rescues St. Pete Catholic
  • Hustle carries Durant to win
  • Cambridge follows its lessons in blowout
  • Lakewood lets chances slip away with season
  • Gattusos lead Eagles past Sonrise
  • Marauders get a needed breather
  • Tornadoes make it look easy
  • Pasco wastes no time putting away Patriots
  • Experience down stretch lifts Rams
  • Tampa Bay Tech ends it quickly
  • Villanova lands Fabrizio

  • Outdoors
  • Krazy about kayaks
  • This time of year is better than you'd think

  • © Copyright St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.