The Indy Racing League's initiative to enhance its schedule with the addition of road and course events continued with the addition of St Petersburg to the 2005 schedule.

An expected addition to the calendar, the Honda Grand Prix of St Petersburg will be the first IndyCar Series event to be staged on anything but an oval, and joins other new events on the permanent road courses at Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glen International. The third round of the 2005 series, following oval events at Homestead and Phoenix, the Honda GP will be held on a downtown 14-turn, 1.806mile temporary course, which incorporates a runway at Albert Whitted Airport and features a stretch along the St Petersburg waterways on 3 April.

"Today's announcement brings us to a major market that has considerable interest in motorsports, and I'd like to thank mayor Rick Baker and the city council for their pursuit of this event on behalf of the people of St Petersburg," said IRL president and CEO Tony George.

"The addition of the Honda Grand Prix of St Petersburg allows the IRL to achieve two of its goals as they relate to scheduling. We are continuing to enhance our schedule with the addition of road and street-style events, and this race allows the IRL to compete in another warm-weather market in advance of the Indianapolis 500."

The announcement was made during a celebration at St Petersburg's Bayfront Plaza, and featured the city mayor, members of the city council, Andretti Green team members Michael Andretti and Dario Franchitti, Barry Green, who will serve as the event's managing director, and Tom Elliott, executive vice president of auto operations for American Honda Motor Company.

"On 3 April 2005, the Indy Racing League drivers will race on a street course for the very first time," mayor Baker confirmed, "We're thrilled that the league's inaugural street circuit event will take place right here in beautiful downtown St Petersburg."

Andretti Green Promotions, an affiliate of IndyCar Series team Andretti Green Racing, will serve as race promoter under the direction Green, a former Indy-style race team owner.

"Andretti Green Promotions is thrilled with the opportunity that lies ahead in St Petersburg," Green said, "It's a terrific venue and has all the elements necessary to create a successful event for the city, the fans, the competitors, a national television audience and the Indy Racing League."

Honda, which claimed its first engine manufacturers' title on 15 August, will serve as title sponsor of the event, the second time it has backed an IndyCar Series event.

"We're looking forward to bringing the excitement of IndyCar Series racing to the west coast of Florida," Elliott said, "Honda has a long history of supporting open-wheel racing in America and a tradition of sponsoring major sporting events in Florida. The opportunity to combine these two traditions in the St Petersburg market should provide a thrilling show for Florida's many motorsports fans. We also appreciate the strong support from the city of St Petersburg and look forward to sponsoring this race for several years to come."