Honda to Sponsor St. Petersburg Indy Event

9/2/2004 5:59:00 PM

A new era in Indy Racing League IndyCar Series history will open on April 3, 2005, with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which becomes the first road/street course event in the 10-year history of the IRL.

The Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be the third event in the 17-race 2005 IRL calendar, and first of three road and street circuits on the schedule. It will take place on the same downtown streets as the former race run in 2003, a 14-turn, 1.806-mile temporary course which incorporates a runway at Albert Whitted Airport and features a stretch along the St. Petersburg waterways.

"We're looking forward to bringing the excitement of IndyCar racing to the west coast of Florida," said Tom Elliott, Executive Vice President of Auto Operations for American Honda Motor Company, Inc. "Honda has a long history of supporting open-wheel racing in America, and a tradition of sponsoring major sporting events in Florida. The opportunity to combine these two traditions in the St. Petersburg market should provide a thrilling show for Florida's many motorsports fans. We also appreciate the strong support from the City of St. Petersburg and look forward to sponsoring this race for several years to come."

For the past 23 years, professional golf's Honda Classic has been a major part of the PGA Tour, held for the past two years at Mirasol Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Honda's Acura division is also a primary sponsor of the annual Southern Ocean Racing Conference (SORC) sailing races, held in the waters off Miami.

In the IndyCar Series, Honda is the primary sponsor of the Pikes Peak Honda Indy 225, held in August at Pikes Peak International Raceway's one-mile oval near Colorado Springs, Colo. Honda recently clinched the 2004 IndyCar Manufacturers' Championship, and has powered the winning driver in 12 of 13 IndyCar races this season, including the Indianapolis 500.

Andretti Green Promotions, a division of Indianapolis-based Andretti Green Racing, will organize the race weekend. Chief executive will be former team owner Barry Green, returning to the sport in a new capacity after a 30-year career as a driver, mechanic, team manager and owner.

"Today's announcement brings us to a major market that has considerable interest in motorsports and I'd like to thank Mayor Rick Baker and the City Council for their pursuit of this event on behalf of the people of St. Petersburg," said Tony George, president and CEO of the Indy Racing League. "The addition of St. Petersburg allows the IRL to achieve two of its primary goals as it relates to scheduling - one being the enhancement of our schedule with the addition of road and street-style events. Secondly, this allows the IRL to fill in a part of our season with a warm weather market in advance of the Indianapolis 500-Mile race."