It’s been 41 years since the first Long Beach Grand Prix, a Formula 5000 race won by Brian Redman. Formula 1 took over until 1983 and since then the in-city road race has featured what are now called IndyCars.
The same-only-different is a good way to describe how the Southern California event has evolved. Much of that is because of the manner in which Long Beach has grown. In those early years the city was just starting to develop and had a slightly seedy side, like the porno theater on the front straight. Biggest attraction was the Queen Mary.
Not anymore. Thanks to new buildings and a huge convention center, Long Beach is a city to be envied by many urban centers. Then there’s the race track, a temporary 1.968-mile, 11-turn circuit lined with concrete barriers.
IndyCars may be the highlight, but just part of the weekend. Add open-wheel Indy Lights, the Tudor United SportsCar Championship Daytona Prototype and GTLM sports cars, production-based Pirelli World Challenge racers, Stadium Super Trucks and drift cars. The Toyota pro/celebrity race for charity features Scion FR-S sport coupes.
Inside of the track is another world, with concessions ranging from memorabilia stands to a go-kart track to eateries featuring artery-clogging food best washed down with a beer. In the convention center you can watch the Pirelli Challenge cars being worked on, race tiny cars around the Tamiya track or ogle exotic cars.
The Long Beach Grand Prix is more than just a race.
1-Scott Dixon, racing for Chip Ganassi’s team, won the 2015 Long Beach Grand Prix.
2-Helio Castroneves put this Team Penske car on the pole with a new lap record of 1 minute, 6.294 seconds at 106.331 mph.
3-One of the quick Indy Lights drivers is Matthew Brabham, son of 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Geoff Brabham and grandson of Formula 1 champion Sir Jack Brabham.
4-BMW took the pole and the Tudor United SportsCar GTLM class win with a Z4 GTE driven by Bill Auberlen and Kurt Werner.
5-Old and new buildings are a backdrop for the Long Beach Grand Prix, which has been run since 1975.
6-Some might consider this Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS GT3 the great grandson of the W196 in Rev’s new Rivals display. There certain is a family resemblance.
7-Bentley’s Continental GT3s look big compare to competitors like the McLaren 650S GT3 or Audi R8 LMS Ultra, but it’s quicker and beat them all.