Bourdais’ win wasn’t just for him and team, but also for his St. Pete friends, neighbors

Photos: IndyCar

Sebastien Bourdais won Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg for himself, for Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan and for primary sponsor SealMaster.

It was the second straight year that Bourdais won the IndyCar season-opening race along Tampa Bay and the edge of St. Pete’s downtown.

There was one other group of individuals that Bourdais also thanked in victory circle, but for more than just being there to witness his win.

Bourdais may have been born in Le Mans, France, 39 years ago, but he’s called St. Petersburg his adopted hometown for the nearly the last seven years.

It’s been nothing short of a love affair between the Frenchman and the St. Petersburg community. They welcomed him and his family with open arms, and he in turn reciprocated by becoming involved in the community in several capacities.

But the best capacity is how he’s now won the St. Pete IndyCar season opener two years in a row. In addition to friends and family, Bourdais had his own built-in cheering section all weekend.

Namely, his neighbors and others who live in the area, the same folks that have embraced him and are especially proud to call him one of their own.

“It’s awesome, and the response of the community, the support, the pulling together from everybody, the sponsors for the Kart4Kids race, the IndyCar community, drivers, sponsors, partners, people in general,” Bourdais said of how much the race weekend means to him and the St. Petersburg community.

That’s especially true after Firestone extended its sponsorship of the St. Pete Grand Prix this past week through 2020.

“Yeah, they’ve embraced me, and this morning more stuff coming with the city and trying to promote and grow the event with (race promoters Green Savoree Race Promotions), and everybody is doing a great job,” Bourdais said. “They’re putting a lot of heart in it, and I’m just trying to help

“And obviously when you win in front of friends and family, it’s very special. I couldn’t really be any happier about that.”

When Bourdais was seriously injured in a crash at Indianapolis last May while preparing for the Indy 500, there was initial fear that he would miss the rest of the season, let alone possibly never race again.

After all, at 38 years old then, he’s been racing in open-wheel Indy cars for nearly two decades.

But Bourdais not only came back, he came back early, back racing just 2 ½ months after one of the worst wrecks of his career.

“At the end of the day, this is my life,” he said. “This is what I want to be doing, and as long as I’m competitive, this is what I’ll be doing.

“It’s just a great feeling to be able to restart that way and make a statement really, because it was obviously not a given, and that new aero kit was — everything was up in the air.

“Nobody really knew how it was going to shake out, who was going to have what, and we were competitive. We didn’t have the fastest car, but we were in the mix, so just a great way to get the season going again.”

Bourdais got a lot of support while rehabbing at home from the Indy crash from friends and neighbors, helping to spur him on and recover faster. They helped make him stronger, perhaps not physically, but certainly emotionally.

And that’s why when Bourdais celebrated in victory circle Sunday, he shared his win with those same friends and neighbors.

This one was for them.

“Yeah, I was very emotional in the car on the (cool down) lap,” Bourdais said. “It’s tough to put into words, that’s for sure. I think you get the questions from people – ‘Is he going to be the same, is he going to come back, is he this, is he this?’

“I really try not to leave any room for uncertainty as far as what I was going to do and how forward I was going to go by coming back to Gateway (Motorsports Park outside St. Louis) last year, two and a half months later.

“It’s been bumpy, it’s been tough, it’s been everything in between, but I’ve gotten a lot of support from the CEO to my family to everybody on board. It’s been pretty hard for myself in some ways, obviously, but more for people around me and certain people, for my wife.

“It’s quite an achievement to be able to restart the season and settle the matter right away (whether he could win again) and get back on the horse and win another one.”

Of course, there was a bit of luck involved with Sunday’s win, Bourdais and team owner Dale Coyne both agreed.

“I saw Robert (Wickens) and Alex (Rossi) just going at it,” Bourdais said. “They both wanted it really bad, and I have no idea whose fault it (their collision) is or if it’s just a racing thing.

“But when I saw both of them starting to drift going toward the apex and getting themselves in the marbles, I thought, ‘Oh, boy.’ And then, sure enough, they both skated off, one spun, the other one recovered, and I was through, and then it went yellow, and that was that. Just a crazy day. I couldn’t dream of that ending.”

Added Coyne quite astutely, “We had an eighth-place car today. (Bourdais’) consistency makes that a fourth-place car, and luck made it a winning car.”

When Bourdais and his family moved to St. Petersburg in 2012, they had plenty of room in their house. Their house is a short drive away from the temporary street course that the Grand Prix is contested upon.

But after all the success he’s had in his adopted hometown, as well as Daytona and Sebring and other venues in both IndyCar and sports car racing, the Bourdais family may have to look at either building an addition or buying a larger home.

Still in the St. Pete area, of course.

“Yeah, the shelving is starting to be a little crowded in St. Pete,” Bourdais said with a smile. “When we came back in ’12, we didn’t bring anything. We just came with all the luggage, I went to Ikea, and that was that.

“There was nothing in the house, and the collection is getting bigger quite nicely. Not the place it was when I was in the Champ Car days, but there’s some Daytona trophies and Sebring trophies and Road Atlanta’s and IndyCar trophies.

“Yeah, we’ve managed to win one pretty much every year since ’14. I’m pretty happy to keep that streak alive.”

So is Coyne.

“Sebastien said the mayor is going to name a street after him now because he’s won two in a row,” Coyne said. “Hopefully it’s his home street.”

Coyne then added a bit more levity to the post-race party shortly after Bourdais said he was 39 years old.

“We’re very excited about (winning),” Coyne said, before turning to Bourdais and adding with a laugh, “Did you say you were 39? You told me 34.”

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Seattle Supercross by the numbers: Three riders separated by 17 points


Three riders remain locked in a tight battle with 17 points separating the leader Cooper Webb from third-place Chase Sexton and these are only a few Supercross numbers to consider entering Seattle.

Seattle Supercross numbers
Chase Sexton made a statement in Detroit with his second win of 2023. – Feld Motor Sports

For the fifth time in 10 rounds. Sexton, Webb, and Eli Tomac shared the podium in Detroit. Between them, the trio has taken 23 podiums, leaving only seven for the remainder of the field. Jason Anderson, Ken Roczen and Justin Barcia have two each with Aaron Plessinger scoring the other.

Webb and Tomac won the last four championships with two apiece in alternating years, but they were not one another’s primary rival for most of those seasons. On the average, however, the past four years show an incredible similarity with average points earned of 21.0 for Webb and 21.3 for Tomac. With five wins so far this season, Tomac (23 wins) leads Webb (19) in victories but Webb (43) edges Tomac (41) in podium finishes during this span.

Tomac has won two of the last three Seattle races and those two wins in this stadium are topped only by James Stewart. Fittingly, if Tomac gets a third win this week, he will tie Stewart for second on the all-time wins’ list. Tomac tied Ricky Carmichael for third with 48 wins at Oakland and took sole possession of that spot with his Daytona win.

Sexton still has a lot to say and after winning last week in Detroit, he is speaking up. The Supercross numbers are against him entering Seattle, however, because a points’ deficit this large after Round 10 has been erased only once. In 1983 David Bailey was 47 points behind Bob Hannah, and like Sexton he was also in third place. Bailey took the points’ lead with one race remaining.

The seven points Sexton was penalized last week for jumping in a red cross flag section in Detroit could prove extremely costly.

In fact, it has been a series of mistakes that has cost Sexton the most. In the last two weeks, he lost 10 points with a 10th-place finish to go with his penalty. Erase those, and all three riders hold their fate in their hands.

Plessinger’s heartbreak in Detroit is still fresh, but the upside of his run is that was his best of the season and could turn his fortunes around. Prior to that race, he led only seven laps in three mains. He was up front for 20 laps in Detroit with five of those being the fastest on the track.

Last week’s win by Hunter Lawrence tied him with his brother Jett Lawrence for 17th on the all-time wins’ list. With the focus shifting to 250 West for the next two rounds, Jett has a great opportunity to pull back ahead. The real test will be at the first East / West Showdown in East Rutherford, New Jersey on April 22.

Last Five Seattle Winners

2022: Eli Tomac
2019: Marvin Musquin
2018: Eli Tomac
2017: Marvin Musquin
2014: Ryan Villopoto

2022: Hunter Lawrence
2019: Dylan Ferrandis
2018: Aaron Plessinger
2017: Aaron Plessinger
2014: Cole Seely

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

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SMX develops “Leader Lights”
Power Rankings after Detroit
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Results and points after Detroit
Chase Sexton wins in Detroit, penalized seven points