They're getting ready to race in St. Pete! It's a big weekend there, as the Honda Grand Prix rolls into town.
It's one of the signature events of the year in St. Pete and races will be taking place all weekend. They call it the fastest Spring Break party around.
It was ear-splittingly loud close to the track and over on Beach Avenue, it sounded like a swarm of bees in the distance!
Some locals steer clear of the races, because of the crowds, traffic and parking issues, but for most businesses, all that noise sounds like money.
So we asked this question to people working and living in close proximity to the races. Boom or bust?
"I think it's a boom!," said Wendy Danicourt of St. Pete.
"On certain things there's a boom," said Mike Summerall of Sarasota.
"Bust for sure," said Brett Morgan, who works valeting cars at the Pier.
"It's always good for everybody," said John McKinlay of St. Pete. "It always is yeah."
Honda Grand Prix General Manager Tim Ramsberger said it's great to host the world in St. Pete and adds, sponsors like Firestone and American Honda know how important it is too.
"They understand what this means, not only to them as a company, but to us as a community, and Indy car racing," said Ramsberger. "And this year, we're very proud to sell out all of our corporate hospitality."
"I've not seen the downtown be so active and on a weekday."
We caught-up with Wendy Danicourt, two bites into her chicken parm, at a table outside of Bella Brava. She's on vacation and welcomes all that noise!
"It just brings a calm," said Danicourt. "It's that white noise feeling, so it's kind of nice."
"It excites me!," said Bella Brava Manager Mike Summerall. "I like it!"
Summerall told us, on a typical Friday, Bella Brava may do an estimated $20,000 in business.
"We see a slight decrease on this function, because I think that the race itself is so self-sustaining," said Summerall. "It has everything that you need in there, food, drinks, excitement, the roar of the cars, so we see a little dip."
But Summerall said they see lots of repeat visitors, who ate at his restaurant last year, and that's a good thing!
The parade Thursday night also helped make up for any shortfalls Friday.
"Yeah, we got a big bump from that!," said Summerall.
Brett Morgan told us, normally he's running around like mad valeting cars all day.
"The parking lots at the end are full, from people parking and going the other way, but it's been dead out here all day," said Morgan.
There's plenty of bicycles and other multi-wheeled vehicles "for rent" at John McKinlay's, "Wheel Fun Rentals", at the Pier.
"The locals know that downtown gets a little jammed-up, so they tend not to come out, but we're still expecting a pretty good weekend though," said McKinlay.
Drivers are fired-up and so are the fans.
"I hope the businesses flourish from it!" said Danicourt.
Practice runs start at 10:25 in the morning Saturday, then qualifying all afternoon. It should prove to be an exciting weekend.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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