Helio Castroneves will serve as the grand marshal for this year’s season-opening Firestone Grand Prix at St. Petersburg.
The three-time race winner – the most of any driver in the event’s 13-year history – will take part in five days of activities as Firestone, Team Penske and the GP of St. Pete honor his Verizon IndyCar Series career.
“The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg has always been one of my favorite events. The fences are great to climb!” Castroneves said. “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, who in his IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season debut came close to putting the No.7 Team Penske Acura on the Rolex 24 pole last month, will make his IndyCar return in May for the IndyCar Grand Prix at IMS and the Indianapolis 500.
“Everyone at Firestone is grateful to Helio for his contributions to our sport,” said Lisa Boggs, director of Bridgestone Americas Motorsports. “Honoring him as grand marshal of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is a great way to thank him and give fans the opportunity to let him know how much they appreciate all he has done. Helio raced on Firestone Firehawks for almost two decades, so it is fitting that he is a part of this race weekend.”
“It’s our honor to have Helio join us as grand marshal and recognize his many IndyCar achievements at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg,” added Kim Green, co-owner, chairman and CEO of Green Savoree Racing Promotions, organizers of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. “Our fans will no doubt give him a great reception as he returns to the race track where he sets the standard for success.”
Now in his first full-time IMSA season, Castroneves and the Team Penske No.7 Acura ran up front in the first hours of the Rolex 24 before losing time after contact during the night. He finished ninth overall with teammates Graham Rahal and Ricky Taylor.