This past weekend I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix held in Long Beach, California. The event has been going on for 42 years and is very unique in the world of sports. The race is held on the actual streets of Long Beach where a temporary course is set up for two weeks. As a road course the setup is a little different than if you see a race at an oval track. At an oval track one is able to see the entire course however on a road course, due to the length, the spectator is restricted in their view. Due to the view restrictions there are several jumbotrons set up across the course in order to keep up with what is happening in the race. I chose seats located across from turn 15 which I knew would provide lots of action.
We arrived at the race early because, like NASCAR, it’s not simply the one race you’re experiencing but more of a carnival like atmosphere. The Long Beach Convention Center houses a Lifestyle Expo where many vendors and sponsors have setup kiosks and activity centers where race fans can experience racing simulators or pickup free swag.
Another wonderful aspect of the Grand Prix is the multiple dining options that are available. Nothing beats showing up at the track and getting a Chorizo burrito from King Taco.
An early race we experienced was the Pirelli world challenge which featured many top luxury brands fighting tooth and nail over a one hour timed race. After that race finished we went to the “food truck experience” which is unique to the Grand Prix. I went with CJ’s wings but there was pho, Mediterranean, and Korean. After that it was time to settle in for the Grand Prix. The race itself was very quickly paced with no caution periods whatsoever and was brisk at a little under two hours.
There was a moment of controversy as eventual race winner Simon Pagenaud merged onto the track illegally ahead of second place finisher Scott Dixon. Dixon was furious as the race stewards only issued a warning to the race winner. After the excitement of the main event there was a quick Supertruck event that featured insane passing and big jumps. Founded by former Nascar driver Robby Gordon, I had never seen that racing before and came away very impressed. The skill of those drivers matched anything I have seen in other racing series. After attending this event I’m even more excited for the upcoming 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 Memorial day weekend in Indianapolis, Indiana. Part of the greatest day in racing, the Verizon Indycar Series always puts on a good show!