Helio Castroneves named grand marshal for IndyCar season opener in St. Petersburg

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Helio Castroneves is preparing to get a completely different perspective on the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Castroneves was named Thursday as grand marshal for the IndyCar season-opening weekend, March 9-11 at St. Petersburg, Florida.

Castroneves is no stranger to the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg: he’s won it a record three times in the event’s 13-year history.

But with his transition from IndyCar to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series this season, he won’t be behind the wheel for this year’s race.

Ergo, that’s where he’ll get the different perspective from on the grid rather than in a car on the grid.

“The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg has always been one of my favorite events,” Castroneves said in a media release. “The fences are great to climb! I am honored to be grand marshal this year.

“I will miss competing in the race, but I look forward to seeing all of the fans and taking part in all of the activities during the weekend. I cannot wait to see the new aero kit Indy cars – fans will not want to miss out on all of the action.”

Castroneves’ duties as grand marshal will not be just for race day, when he circles the track as part of driver introductions and also when he gives the command for drivers to start engines to get the event under way.

He’ll also be involved in a number of events that will span five days including being official starter for a 6K race, take part in a fan Q&A and meet-and-greet, as well as other community, media and fan interaction events on-site as well as around the St. Petersburg area.