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St. Pete race aims to be a good neighbor

Mar 21, 2013, 11:15 AM EST

Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg - Day 3 Getty Images

While staging a major-league auto race on city streets will always cause some headaches for the locals, the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is doing what it can to help out as track construction enters its final stages.

The 1.8-mile, 14-turn circuit is set up along the St. Pete waterfront and also encloses several local landmarks, including the Salvador Dali Museum. Visitors will have to buy a race ticket and a discounted museum ticket to visit the Dali this weekend, but the race has been working with the museum to try and boost its attendance.

“We have more signage to help our visitors this year,” museum deputy director Kathy White told Mark Puente of the Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday. “We are looking forward to sending as many visitors to the Grand Prix and to the Dalí as possible.”

In addition, the Times reports that the City of St. Petersburg has plans in place to push track visitors toward other race events and local businesses with flashing signs for drivers in and around the course.

Everything won’t be business as usual, however – a Saturday morning farmer’s market at Al Lang Field, which is enclosed by the course, will not operate this weekend. And, of course, the running of the race will cause multiple roads to be closed near the waterfront.

But considering the race’s ability to provide a nationally-televised showcase for the city every spring, one could argue that the temporary annoyances are quite worth it.

St. Petersburg officials seem to think along those lines. The City Council approved an extension last summer to keep their Grand Prix rolling along through 2017.

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