HSR. The 2013 Honda Grand prix of St. Petersburg. (HGSP)
HISTORIC RACING REACHES A NEW AUDIENCE
The idea to once again have historic race cars participate in the â€œWorldâ€™s Fastest Spring Break Partyâ€? took hold quickly with both HSR members and the staff of the HGSP.
The resulting entry was a mixed bag of cars from as far away as Texas, Wisconsin & Michigan.
A formula for the event was decided on, with the focus being FUN.Â
â€¢A boutique St Pete host hotel within walking distance of the track.Â â€¢Quality track with plenty of downtime to enjoy the festivities that surround the inaugural IZOD INDY CAR race of 2013. â€¢Great camaraderie & Sportsmanship.
Roaming the HSR paddock spectators were photographing and asking questions about cars rarely seen racing during an IZOD INDYCAR weekend. Lola, Pilbeam, McLaren, MG, Jaguar etc..
Day 1 and Fridayâ€™s Practice/qualifying session:
Â Drivers had their first view of the fabled waterfront street course. As the cars rolled back into the paddock the previously worried smiles had been replaced by grins. Rather than being a daunting track with walls at the edge of the racing surface it had become a fun, new experience, a race track to be enjoyed, a challenge to take on, not one to be feared.
Heading the timing sheets was local Carlos de Quesada in his Jaguar Rocketsports Trans Am car. 2nd Catesby Jones, 1974 Porsche 911 IROC RSR. 3rd in a 1969 Camaro, Michael Skeene.
Further back in the field of 34 were a Lola T70, McLaren M6B, Porsche 935, Datsun 510, Nissan 280Z, MGA, MGB, Ferrari Daytona and many other classic race cars.
Later in the evening a good time was had by all and the days stories shared as drivers, crew and staff all attended a very special birthday party at the Hollander Hotel, our base for the weekend.
Day 2 Race 1:
Having had the opportunity to learn the track on Day 1, the drivers were now able to concentrate on lap times. Jim Pace in the 1968 McLaren M6B Can-Am car started at the back of the field due to a mechanical problem on day one. By the end of the 30 minute race he had moved into a solid 3rd place and was gaining on the leaders. Carlos De Quesada was first with Donald Soenen from Michigan 2nd in his 1995 Ford Mustang Trans Am.Â
Day 3 Race 2:
Sunday dawned with a weather forecast that wasnâ€™t promising. However the front that brought torrential rain & high winds to most of Florida spared St Petersburg.Â
The final race was at the end of the day yet fans were still in the stands & peering through the fences surrounding the track. It was especially pleasing to see the drivers and crew members of the other INDYCAR support series coming out to watch our particular segment of motorsport.
Jim Pace in his McLaren was soon in the lead from 3rd place at the start. However his mirrors were full of Trans Am cars for the entire race with the margin of victory only 1.2 seconds after 30 hard fought minutes. Carlos was 2nd with John Cloud from Ohio in his 2000 Ford Mustang Trans Am managing to slip by Donald Soenen for 3rd.
The camaraderie displayed post-race cannot be described in wordsâ€¦after battling each other for 30 minutes the drivers then emerged from their cars with stupid grins and heartfelt handshakes.Â
Special mention should go to Bill Riddell who brought his 1985 Buick Somerset that competed in the initial St Petersburg Grand Prix.
Judging by the reaction of the spectators and the drivers who put on the showâ€¦ I think we will be back in 2014!!
For more information, results & photographs from The Honda Grand Prix of St Petersburg please visitÂ www.HSRrace.com