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IndyCar Racing: A Family Adventure with ABCs of Racing at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

IndyCar Racing: A Family Adventure with ABCs of Racing at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

IndyCar Grand Prix Weekend: A Family Adventure with ABCs of Racing


This month, my family and I attended our first INDYCAR race at the St. Petersburg Grand Prix, and it was a blast for all of us! If you and your kids love racing, you'll want to hear more about this.

Just so you know, the St. Petersburg Grand Prix, also known as "The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding," takes place on a street course in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, along the bay, giving it a Monaco-like atmosphere. You might even see spectators on yachts! INDYCAR races on various tracks, making each experience unique. This race, in particular, is the longest-standing one on the current INDYCAR calendar, besides the Indy 500, and kicks off the season.

Before we get into the details, I want to mention my new children's book about INDYCAR, "The ABCs of INDYCAR Racing," which I'm excited to say is officially launched at this race. I had planned to attend this Grand Prix well before the book was finished. Circumstances prevented me from going in 2023, but I was determined not to miss it this year, especially since it was the first race where my books were officially sold at a racetrack. I brought my entire family to see it.

Full disclosure, I received a pair of pit and paddock passes for my wife and me, but other than that, we paid for everything ourselves, including the rookie racers program for our kids.

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Curious about what a weekend at the INDYCAR Grand Prix is like?

Unprecedented Access to Teams, Drivers, and Cars!

The openness of the event struck me immediately, a stark contrast to my experiences at F1 Grand Prix events, which are more restricted. For F1 fans in North America seeking closer interaction with the action, cars, and drivers, an INDYCAR Grand Prix weekend is an opportunity you shouldn't miss. Tickets are more affordable than F1, and the atmosphere is welcoming to fans of all ages.

Having attended four Grand Prix events (two in Austin and two in Miami), I can say that while I love F1, I'm not one who can indulge in paddock passes or receive VIP treatment. So, as a regular admission fan, it was amazing to fully engage in another open-wheel racing series event and feel completely involved without overspending or requiring special privileges.

INDYCAR races offer unparalleled access to the behind-the-scenes action.

For fans eager to get closer to drivers and teams, INDYCAR delivers. As an enthusiast of the engineering side of racing, visiting the merchandise stores first and then exploring the paddock, aka garages, area was a highlight. The paddock passes are a great value, allowing close access to see the action firsthand during race weekend. These passes also grant access to the pit lane during practice and qualifying. But it’s important to note that while kids can go into the paddock or garage areas, they can’t go into the pit lane, which is only for those who are 18 or over.

That’s why I had to take a stroll on the pit lane solo while my wife watched the kids. I probably could have spent all weekend in the pits watching cars come and go, getting tires changed and refueled (yes, refueling is part of an INDYCAR pit stop!).

Meet the Stars of INDYCAR: Autograph Sessions for Kids

INDYCAR races also feature driver autograph sessions, including for INDY NXT drivers. We took advantage of this with our kids, who got to meet drivers and even skip the line with their Rookie Racers membership. It was fantastic to see them interact with a diverse group of drivers and fans.  My daughter especially enjoyed getting to meet two female drivers she admires, Jamie Chadwick from Andretti Team and Lindsay Brewer from team Juncos Hollinger. 

Geek out on Tires 

If you know me, you know I'm a bit obsessed with tires, or tyres if you're into British spelling, so one of the highlights was a tour of the Firestone garage (INDYCAR uses Firestone, similar to how Pirelli supplies all F1 tires), where we got to see and touch some real rubber. My kids were thrilled by that experience.

High-five EVERY driver on the starting grid before the Race!

Last but not least, a definite highlight for my kids was being part of the Driver Announcement ceremony in victory lane, just before the drivers headed to the track. Thanks to our Rookie Racers membership and trusty lanyards, the kids lined up by the stage. As the drivers left the stage following their introduction, they walked past the kids, giving them high fives on their way to the grid. Not gonna lie, I was a bit jealous!


And don't forget to check out the Gift Shop! 

INDYCAR offers an incredible merchandise selection featuring all kinds of cool gear, from apparel to die-cast cars and beyond. I'm thrilled to announce that my book is now available in the official merchandise shop, so be sure to swing by next time you're at a race!



Tips for Attending an INDYCAR Race with Kids 

If you're planning to attend an INDYCAR race with your kids, here are some things to keep in mind:

Junior Tickets: Often discounted for children under 12, making it more affordable for families.

Paddock/Pit Lane/Garage Pass: These passes, costing about $30-40 for a day, offer a behind-the-scenes look and closer interaction with the event.

Rookie Racers Program: This program is a must for kids who want to get up close and personal with the drivers. For an annual membership fee of $39 per child (ideal for ages 5-12), kids gain access to special events such as behind-the-scenes paddock area tours, autograph sessions, and even rides in event cars. It's an excellent opportunity for kids to connect with the sport and make lasting memories. For more information on INDYCAR's Rookie Racers program and other membership levels, visit: https://indycarnation.indycar.com/membership-levels 

Ear Protection, Sunblock and comfy shoes: INDYCAR races can get pretty loud for kids, with V6 engines cranking out 700 horsepower and boasting twin turbos, creating an incredible roar. In some areas of the St. Pete track, you can get right up close to the cars as they zoom by, feeling the vibrations in your body. And that’s why my kids wore earplugs for most of the day!

Overall, attending an INDYCAR race with your family is a thrilling experience that offers something for everyone. From the adrenaline of the races to the excitement of meeting drivers, it's a weekend you won't soon forget.

Introduce your kids to the exhilarating world of INDYCAR Racing with the ABCs of INDYCAR Racing


Looking to share your passion for racing with your kids? Dive into the world of INDYCAR Racing with my latest book, "ABCs of INDYCAR® Racing: My First Guide to INDYCAR Racing." Each page, beautifully illustrated and dedicated to a different letter, brings the excitement of racing to life while teaching valuable lessons. From "M is for Milk" to "B is for Brickyard" and "K is for Kiss the Bricks," kids will explore iconic traditions and STEM concepts in racing. Elevate your child's reading experience with this meticulously crafted ABC book from Red Racer Books.

Available at www.RedRacerBooks.com


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