A Car Enthusiast’s Paradise: Guide to the Long Beach Grand Prix
STORY AND PHOTOS BY: MARK HYDE
With new traffic regulations and strict speed limiters, it's hard to imagine there is a world for people like us. Yes, there is a reason these regulations exist, but then it begs the question as to why companies still decide to build cars that are meant to be driven hard and transgress these regulations. Why develop aftermarket car performance parts when they just end up making the ride completely unbearable? Manual transmissions are still offered in cars, and yet automatics in this day and age return better fuel economy. That’s like using a fireplace as a source of heat when a home furnace can heat every room more effectively. It’s illogical.
But where’s the fun in that?
In a car enthusiast’s world, we marvel at the creases and shapes of a well designed car. Our veins fill with adrenaline as we curve through that perfect road and our senses focus when crackles and pops echo down the street. Rather than looking at cars as just tools, we have a incessant belief that these machines are living entities we can develop a true relationship with. We also believe a fireplace is more aesthetically pleasing than a boring old furnace.
People like us have existed all throughout history, dating back to the early 1900s when the Grand Prix was first introduced to the world. It began when rich men would race dilapidated cars in competition around European public roads. It wasn’t until manufacturers began to notice these races as an opportunity to display their cars to the public that this motor contest would become one of the most prestigious motorsports in the world. Innovation and driving competitiveness has driven this type of Motorsport to display some of the most advanced technologies in aerodynamics and engine power.
Other sanctions were introduced along the way, such as Formula One, the Moto Grand Prix and America’s very own IndyCar Series. Formed in the mid 1990s, the Indycar league was introduced as an American Based open-wheel Motorsport recognized by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). In this Motorsport, IndyCar Grand Prixs are hosted all over the United States, including our own Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Since the track opened in 1975, the Long Beach Grand Prix has hosted many different types of racing events, including Formula 5000, Formula One, CART/Champ cars, and of course IndyCar. It is one of the most historical public road race tracks in America, and is one of the—if not the biggest—money makers for the city of Long Beach that, according to the Press-Telegram, rakes in about $40 million of revenue every year. This is no surprise, due to the fact that this three day event hosts more than just the big race.
The Motegi Super Drift Competition
If you prefer a rear-wheel-drive front engine layout and are an avid fan of the anime/manga Initial D, this is the event you will not want to miss. From abandoned parking lots to curvy back roads, these cars absolutely love to go sideways. This two day event starting Friday and ending Saturday brings some of the best drifters in the country together for an all-out battle for supremacy. The event takes place on corners 9, 10, and 11 on the track from Seaside way to Shoreline Drive. Get there early, though, because if you don’t have seating tickets, you are aloud to stand right at the fence and that gets overwhelmingly packed due to the small area of the track the cars drift in. Turn 10 offers some of the best views of the drifting—although that can be argued.
The Stadium SUPER Trucks (SST)
The Stadium Super Truck race might be one of the most insane races you will ever spectate. With actual ramps for these 600 horsepower trucks to launch off of during the race, you know it will be an amazing experience, and you will be sure to hear these trucks roaring throughout the track almost the entire weekend. The Long Beach Circuit is hosting the third race of the SST 2018 schedule, so prepare for an extremely competitive race.
The Ultimate Sports Car Races
There are sports cars you see on public roads today, but none of those cars can execute a turn and go like these sports cars. These sports cars have no AC, no radio, and no sort of traction control for the name of saving as much weight as possible. These sports cars come in many shapes as well, from a traditional production-shaped body to a single-seater, from a closed roof to an open top, and from an closed to open wheel structure.
These are sports cars that not many people have the opportunity of witnessing, because usually they are one of a kind, and due to the fact that these cars are so unique, their value can range from the hundred thousands to millions of dollars. Of course, the owners of these cars are unimaginably rich, so much that they hire drivers to get their cars to the podium, a team to maintain the car on and off the track and sponsors to advertise their car to the public. During this weekend, you are able to witness these extraordinarily rare cars in their prime, and they come in many different flavors. There are the Pirelli World Challenge Cars , the Historic Trans Am Challenge that hosts cars from the 1960-1970s, the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship, and--of course--the Verizon IndyCar Series.
This is a long weekend full of loud engines and competition, but there is more than just racing going during this event. There is live music on Friday and Saturday nights, food trucks located at the Marina Park, Wine bars located throughout the track and even full dine-in restaurants located by the Pike Outlets that--due to these restaurants located inside the closed event--let you take your beer or other alcoholic beverage with you. And because this event is hosted by Modelo, you can find Modelo beer stands at almost every corner throughout the track. Arena Park located along Seaside Way, Marina Park along Shoreline Drive and the cul de sac outside of Gladstones offers not only my opinion of the best views of the race, but also the best spots for food, drinks and a great time.
Inside the Long Beach Convention Center, you will find the Lifestyle Expo, showcasing race cars, travel deals, new home technologies, a Family Fun Zone and even some driver autograph sessions. Sunday will host Mother’s Exotic Car Paddock located outside by turn 9 showcasing exotic sports cars from Ferrari, Porsche, Lotus, Lamborghini, etc!
Long Beach Grand Prix Weekend Schedule 2018
You can find these cars racing throughout the track every day of the weekend, however, for better times and dates, visit https://gplb.com/weekend-schedule/ for the full schedule.