Notebook: St. Pete Secure
April 1, 2006 | 4:52 P.M. EST
“We’ve in the past always tried to wait and get everything together, as difficult as it has been in the past. I have always been a proponent of announcing good news while it’s still “news” and doesn’t become speculation,” said series founder and Chief Executive Officer Tony George.
The event has an economic impact similar to that of hosting the NCAA’s men’s Final Four for the St. Pete area according to the St. Petersburg Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
"You know that if your hotel rooms are rented out, that your restaurants are going to do well, your shops are going to do well, and everything else is going to do well as part of it. And this (event) virtually sells out the hotel rooms in the community," said St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker.
While today’s announcement solidifies the spots for two races in the 2007 schedule, George doesn’t feel that the series is close to announcing the full slate despite feeling like it will occupy the same time period.
"I don’t know that we are close to announcing a full schedule yet. This is an easy one because we all agree on the dates and times and all that stuff. Some of the others, we haven’t had any discussions," said George. "We hope to be announcing some new races as well. Some of the events on this calendar aren’t totally firmed up for next year, so we are trying to get that done.
"I think we are working within the March to early September time frame. If anything, it’ll just be more races within that time frame."
Speed Records Fall
With only one previous visit by the IRL to the St. Petersburg road course, records were expected to fall as drivers return with more knowledge about the track.
For Dario Franchitti, it didn’t take long.
The Scottish born driver followed up yesterday’s fast lap by posting the early morning best of 1:02.185, 104.205 mph, breaking the track record set by Bryan Herta last season. The Andretti-Green Racing machine wasn’t the only one to go faster than last year’s record, as Helio Castroneves of Marlboro Team Penske also eclipsed the previous track record of 103,664 mph.
Franchitti followed his morning fast lap by winning the pole for Sunday’s race. To read more about qualifying, click here
Tire Company Reaches Out for Children
Bidgestone/Firestone announced today that they would be presenting a $2,500 donation to the All Children’s Hospital in an effort to provide child car safety seats to low-income families across North America.
The tire company’s trust fund will make the donation prior to tomorrow’s race in conjunction with the CARA Charities "Buckle Up Baby" project. The program, which was established in 1993, has facilitated over $700,000 in donations towards children’s hospitals and clinics throughout North America.