Grand Prix revs up in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – Racing a souped up Maserati at 140 miles an hour on the Firestone Grand Prix track in St. Petersburg is a test of concentration. “A mistake here is more costly and everything is heightened a little bit here,” said Jeff Courtney, a driver for the Pirelli World Challenge team.

Grand Prix

Grand Prix

Courtney said this course is especially fun because of its location. “It’s a very cool area. We’re on the water. You’re racing past yachts and things like that. It’s very cool,” he said.

RELATED: New security measures installed at St. Pete Grand Prix

The car Courtney drives looks like one you could buy – if a Maserati was in your budget. But his has been modified to race.

Courtney said he’s had a few crack ups and suffered broken bones here and there. “Otherwise, you’re not pushing it hard enough, but no, here, we run a little more cautiously than we normally would because lack of runoff area,” he said.

RELATED: Parking, free shuttle info for 2016 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

On the St. Petersburg course, stacks of tires are placed to lesson a crash. “It’s a concrete alley. There’s concrete walls on both sides. It’s a little tighter and it’s an actual street so there’s a lot of imperfections,” Courtney said.

From the driver’s point of view, the world ahead becomes a blur, with walls that come at you that you swear you’re about to hit.

The Maserati is a GTS racer. There are other classes of cars racing this weekend, including Indy cars and Indy lights.

Practice begins at 7:30 in the morning. Events are happening all weekend.

RELATED: 2016 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg: Fast Facts for Race Fans

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