St. Pete race aims to be a good neighbor

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While staging a major-league auto race on city streets will always cause some headaches for the locals, the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is doing what it can to help out as track construction enters its final stages.

The 1.8-mile, 14-turn circuit is set up along the St. Pete waterfront and also encloses several local landmarks, including the Salvador Dali Museum. Visitors will have to buy a race ticket and a discounted museum ticket to visit the Dali this weekend, but the race has been working with the museum to try and boost its attendance.

“We have more signage to help our visitors this year,” museum deputy director Kathy White told Mark Puente of the Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday. “We are looking forward to sending as many visitors to the Grand Prix and to the Dalí as possible.”

In addition, the Times reports that the City of St. Petersburg has plans in place to push track visitors toward other race events and local businesses with flashing signs for drivers in and around the course.

Everything won’t be business as usual, however – a Saturday morning farmer’s market at Al Lang Field, which is enclosed by the course, will not operate this weekend. And, of course, the running of the race will cause multiple roads to be closed near the waterfront.

But considering the race’s ability to provide a nationally-televised showcase for the city every spring, one could argue that the temporary annoyances are quite worth it.

St. Petersburg officials seem to think along those lines. The City Council approved an extension last summer to keep their Grand Prix rolling along through 2017.

Travis Pastrana leads flag-to-flag in Nitro Rallycross as the series returns to America

Pastrana Nitro Rallycross
Barry Chin / Getty Images
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Travis Pastrana waited until the final trip around ERX Motor Park to take his Joker Lap – a longer way around the course that all drivers must do at least once in a race – and came out cleanly to win his first Nitro Rallycross race of 2022. With this win, Pastrana is the third driver to visit Victory Lane in the first three rounds of the 2022-23 season.

“This is the closest to a motocross track,” Pastrana told Katie Osborne on Peacock. “Thank you so much for a beautiful facility. It’s been a rough start to the season and I’m so thankful to be back out here. We had a good run in the side-by-side and now for this. This is much needed.”

Another thing needed was the sense of improvement. And Pastrana earned that affirmation each time he completed a lap around the course.

“I get my lap times read out and they said ‘fastest time of the week,’ ‘fastest time of the week’ (each time around) ” Pastrana said. “This is really special. We’re a long way behind in the championship, but welcome to America.”

In a pre-race press conference, Pastrana said that as Nitro Rallycross heads back to America, it was time for an American to win and he made good on his promise. Pastrana took the early lead over Robin Larsson and let the back of his Subaru hang out, taking risks he might not otherwise take if not for his need to win.

How to Watch Nitro Rallycross

Larsson’s second-place finish completed a perfect sweep of the podium in three rounds. In fact, he has not yet finished worse than second after winning the opening round at Lydden Hill in the United Kingdom and finishing second at Strangnas in Sweeden.

Fraser McConnel rounded out the podium for his best result of the season. He finished fourth in each of the first two rounds.

Last year, Pastrana finished second in this race to Scott Speed before narrowly edging his teammate for the championship.

Andreas Bakkerud crashed in prelims, but rebounded to finish just off the block in fourth. Bakkerud won the second round ahead of his teammate Larsson.

Oliver Bennett completed the top five.

Minneapolis is the first of three rounds scheduled in the United States. Next on the schedule is Glen Helen, Calif. on Octo 30 and then Phoenix at Wild Horse Pass on November 12th. Nitro Rallycross will then head to Saudi Arabia in December to continue their 2022-23 season.