St. Petersburg, Florida -- The Grand Prix of St. Pete is searching for a newmainsponsor after Honda pulled out just five months before the event.
Every year, the race weekend is a huge draw for the Tampa Bay area with attendance last year topping 125,000 people.
The race's organizers say despite losing their big sponsor, they are firmly embedded in this community and not going anywhere.
Having Honda speed away after nine years was a stunner for Tim Ramsberger, who organizes the race.
"Very much a surprise," Ramsburger told 10 News on Monday.
"We have valued the relationship we've had with Honda for the past nine years. We assumed it was going to go forward."
What's having your nameon a race like thisworth?
The St. Pete organizers won't say, but Honda has said being the title sponsor of a similar race in Baltimore costs $600,000 to $1 million.
Missing out on that money is a big deal.
Before paint maker Valspar came in last month as the title sponsor for Tampa Bay's PGA Tour event, the tour was planning to yank the golf tournament from our area and send it to Puerto Rico.
Could we lose the race that has nowbecome a Tampa Bay tradition, if there's no big name behind it?
Ramsberger says no way.He's adamant his company, Green Savoree Racing Promotions, which puts on the race each year, has the financial strength to pull it off no matter what.
"We're going to rebound from this. I think we got put in the wall here at Turn 10, but the race continues," Ramsberger said.
"We'll get back into the race here, and we'll finish strong."
St. Petersburg does have a big cost-saving advantage that will help the race succeed, and it's stored under an Interstate 275 overpass near Tropicana Field.
All of the barriers, bridges, and fences needed to build a race course are stacked up, ready for use. They're owned by the city -- donated by a race promoter a decade ago to settle a debt.
Since the pieces needed to turn St. Pete's streets into a race track don't have to be rented each year, they save what past estimates have put at more than $1 million per race.
The next Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will again be the starting line for the IndyCar Series racing season, and the race weekend is scheduled for March 28-30, 2014.
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