This weekend, 170,000 spectators will watch the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, one of the major events of the Verizon IndyCar Series. When drivers race 110 laps through a 14-turn temporary street circuit in downtown St. Pete, a select few of those spectators will have unparalleled views of the race from the Firestone Grand Prix Yacht Club, an exclusive temporary marina.
Just a few months before for St. Pete's 2011 Grand Prix, GatorDock was awarded the contract to build the marina. Organizers of the race sought a modular, transportable, high-profile marina with slips for extra-large yachts. The project consisted of a long dock with 30- to 150-ft. slips, a floating party platform for yacht owners and their guests, and ADA-compliant gangways to the platform.
The event owner knew that significant advantages would result from using an all-aluminum structure. For starters, low-maintenance, marine-grade aluminum is the ideal material for a coastal environment. Moreover, aluminum's light weight was vitally important: "Unlike most marinas that are erected permanently, this project comes out only for special events. It has to be transported, installed, disassembled, and returned to storage repeatedly for various events," said Paul "Dil" Schmitz, GatorDock's director of sales.
Different occasions may call for different configurations, and that posed another challenge for GatorDock engineers and fabricators. The solution, Schmitz said, was using a Lego®-like pin connection system so that the dock and the platform could be sized as needed for specific events. This year's Grand Prix layout encompasses 12,000 square feet.
Want to sign up for three fun-filled days at next year's Firestone Grand Prix Yacht Club? You can! Plan on paying about $8,500 for 14 Yacht Club passes, six pit passes, and a slip. (By the way, we'll be happy to help you find guests to lounge on your yacht!)