St. Petersburg track begins construction

Sebastien Bourdais has a tangible countdown to the IZOD IndyCar Series season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg every time he rides his bike on portions of the 1.8-mile, 14-turn circuit.

Construction of the temporary street circuit for the ninth annual event March 22-24 began Feb. 15.

St Pete - Show Car wingsOver the next 35 days, about 250 workers will transform 20,000 feet of steel-reinforced concrete blocks, 44,000 feet of chain-link fencing and more than 12,000 tires into a demanding and entertaining racing circuit that features a 2,350-foot frontstretch on an airport runway. They’ll also erect eight spectator grandstands and other infrastructure.

Bourdais, who enters his second season in the No. 7 Dragon Racing car, will seek to make his third start at St. Pete. He earned the pole in the lone Champ Car event on the waterfront course (2003) and finished 21st (mechanical) in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series opener.

“It looks very different when there aren’t any concrete blocks or anything,” said Bourdais, a St. Petersburg resident who turns 34 on Feb. 28. “It’s a racetrack that is not very invasive on the neighborhood so it’s a good setup to insure the continuity of the event. It’s a challenging track and getting bumpier every year, which is what you would expect from a street course. There are sections that are very technical and unforgiving.”

The promoter group, in conjunction with the IZOD IndyCar Series, will have workers grind the curbing at Turn 12 (photo below) to lessen its severity. GET TICKETS

Bourdais will begin on-track preparations for the 19-race season with testing Feb. 18 (Sebring) and 27 (Sonoma) before an IZOD IndyCar Series Open Test.

“It’s been a long offseason; my last race was Baltimore,” said Bourdais, who competed on road/street courses in 2012 following the Indianapolis 500. I’m looking forward to racing at St. Pete soon.”

St Pete - Turn 12 construction 

Ganassi teams unite for 'Race with Insulin’ initiative

Chip Ganassi Racing Teams and partner Novo Nordisk, a world leader in diabetes care, announced that IZOD IndyCar Series driver Charlie Kimball (No. 83 Novo Nordisk) and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teammate Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Chevrolet SS) will both sport Race with Insulin paint schemes during their respective races April 5-7.

The program will show that with the right management plan and ”team” support, people with diabetes can start to get their diabetes on track.

In addition to the special paint schemes, all other CGRT cars (Scott Dixon’s No. 9 Honda – IZOD IndyCar Series, Dario Franchitti’s No. 10 Honda – IZOD IndyCar Series, Juan Pablo Montoya’s No. 42 Chevrolet SS – NASCAR, and Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas’ No. 1 BMW – GRAND-AM) will run blue tire rims to help launch the Race with Insulin Unites campaign.

The rims will emulate a blue circle, which is the International Diabetes Federation’s global symbol for diabetes, to support Kimball’s quest to educate people about diabetes.

Now in his third season with Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing, Kimball was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes during a routine physician’s visit in 2007 while racing in Europe.

“I am able to live my dream and compete in the IZOD IndyCar Series because I have been fortunate to have the support of Novo Nordisk and my teammates, who are extensions of my on-track pit crew,” Kimball said.

Of note

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing announced that TranSystems Inc., a global engineering transportation firm, has become an Official Team Partner as well as an associate sponsor of the No. 15 entry driven by Graham Rahal for the next two seasons. … Associate sponsors Alfe Heat Treating, Greer Enterprises and Housby Trucking have re-signed with A.J. Foyt Racing. ... Coca-Cola will become the Official Soft Drink of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and The Mid-Ohio School as part of a multi-year partnership. … SPEED Energy Drink will be the Official Energy Drink of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 19-21.