Ken Welch

At the "first block" track build ceremony held Jan. 31 on Dan Wheldon Way, St. Petersburg, Florida, Mayor Ken Welch was announced by race organizers as the honorary grand marshal for the upcoming Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding on Feb. 25-27.

Kenneth T. Welch, the 54th mayor of St. Petersburg, was sworn into office Jan. 6. He will give the command to start engines on race day, Sunday, Feb. 27. Welch also will participate in additional pre-race ceremonies during the event weekend.

“I am honored to be named this year’s grand marshal for the St. Petersburg Grand Prix,” Welch said. “This event showcases so much of what our wonderful city offers – a pristine waterfront, warm breeze, plenty of sunshine, good people and loads of fun. I look forward to seeing you all on race day.”

Said Kim Green, co-owner, chairman and CEO of Green Savoree St. Petersburg, LLC, organizers of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented by RP Funding: “We are honored that our new mayor of ‘The Sunshine City’ accepted our invitation to be the event’s grand marshal and join us for this great weekend in downtown St. Petersburg. We are looking forward to introducing him to our amazing fans and the entire NTT INDYCAR SERIES racing community during the 18th annual Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding.”

The track build began this morning to lay out the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary circuit and festival grounds. The 25-day project is highlighted by over 20 million pounds of concrete blocks being moved into place by Stepp’s Towing, grandstands and hospitality suites erected, and five bridges placed. The track construction culminates with an event weekend featuring 10 races taking the green flag across six different racing series. The 100-lap NTT INDYCAR SERIES’ season-opening race closes out the schedule, with television coverage starting at noon (ET) Sunday, Feb. 27.

Tickets for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding start as low as $25. For complete pricing, schedule and festival information, visit Follow the event on social media using @gpstpete and #FirestoneGP for the latest updates.