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Rick Kriseman bests Bob Buckhorn in trash talking Go Kart race

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

There’s an unspoken – alright, sometimes spoken – feud between St. Pete and Tampa over which side is better. Well, Thursday morning St. Pete bested its big brother across the Bay in a go-cart race between several local mayors.

Sorry Bob Buckhorn, but you also got bested by Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson and Palmetto Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant, who wasn’t even trying to win.

And it came after some serious, serious trash talking.

None of these cars have training wheels, because the mayor of St Petersburg needs training wheels. I’m not even sure he has a driver’s license,” Buckhorn said before removing his tie and strapping into a 45 mile-per-hour go cart. “I’m not worried about the other mayors.”

“The city of Tampa is the biggest city around here so, you know, I’m here with the junior partners in this operation. Some of the small boroughs and the little hideaways and little communities tucked away on the other side of the bridge. The 900-pound gorilla is here today and even though Rick has been practicing for the last week … I have no doubt, no doubt, that the city of Tampa is going to win this thing. Hands down.”

Nope. Instead Buckhorn spun out in the grass on the last lap after trailing the entire race.

The entire event at the Andersen RacePark in Palmetto was meant to promote the St. Petersburg Grand Prix later this month from Friday, March 27, until Sunday, March 29.

“It’s more than just a race,” Kriseman said. “It’s a way for our communities and businesses to come together.”

And for all of his trash talking, Buckhorn agreed.

“This is a regional event. There is no longer any distinction between St. Petersburg and Tampa. We are all in this together. We compete together. We grow together. We win together,” Buckhorn said.

The St. Petersburg Grand Prix is a three-day road race through downtown St. Pete that boasts three circuits on the “Road to Indy” including USF 2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights.

Drivers from all three divisions were on hand to show the mayors, and the media, a thing or two about how to drive. But instead of strapping into their much, much faster cars, the drivers climbed into the go-carts so tiny the exhaust manifold seems like a good place to rest your arm. Don’t. Several people, including this reporter, left behind a layer or two of skin.

After Kriseman whooped up on Buckhorn in a mayors-only race, Buckhorn blamed the loss on Kriseman.

“It’s a shame that the city of St. Pete had to bleed my breaks out. That was the only way that he could win.”

Kriseman’s response: “All I can say is, I had nothing to do with it.”

Buckhorn called Kriseman “Petunia” and Kriseman fired back that he’d better get used to the view. Kriseman was in front of Buckhorn at the start of the race.

But all that back and forth in this tale of two mayors was nothing. The real fun came when the good folks over at Andersen decided it was a good idea to strap members of the media into the go-carts.

This pit reporters and photogs from Bay News 9, Fox 13, News Channel 8 and WTSP against one another. SaintPetersblog joined forces with Fox and got this glowing endorsement from Kriseman’s media relations director Ben Kriby that didn’t look too good for WTSP.

Kirby tweet

Bay News 9 was the loud bunch. Never have more Go Pros probably been mounted to a bunch of go carts on one track before. It was like letting a pack of 7-year olds loose in FAO Schwartz.

But, mission accomplished, St. Pete. Come this evening all of the major news stations in the Tampa Bay area will be buzzing with their own reporters the subject of Go Pro awesomeness touting the upcoming Grand Prix with probably a little extra enthusiasm.

Reporting on a race gets a little easier when you know what it’s like to, well, race.

Oh, and if all that fun wasn’t enough, members of the media, and the pack of mayors, were led out onto the track by a teeny tiny pace car driven by none other than the young son of late Indy Car driver Dan Wheldon, Sebastion Wheldon. Enjoy this photo of what may be the tiniest driver ever.

Sebastian Wheldon

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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