Just a few moments ago Acura VP and Long Beach Grand Prix Association CEO Jim Michaelian announced that Acura will step up to be the Grand Prix of Long Beach title sponsor.
Exact terms were not detailed but we do know it will be a “multi-year agreement”.
The previous title sponsor, Toyota stayed with the race for several decades yet, stepped down last year after.
Many speculated who the new title sponsor would be and early leaks suggested Honda would be the sponsor since they are somewhat local to Long Beach with an HQ in Torrance, CA. Though, I am not sure many anticipated that Honda would go with their luxury brand.
When asked about this Acura VP Jon Ikeda stated that for Acura “The time was just right” for the brand to have it’s own race.
Former F1 driver and current IMSA SportsCar driver Juan Montoya was on hand along with Indy Car driver Graham Rahal to take part in the announcement.
It will be interesting to see how the face of the race changes with Acura as the new title sponsor and what implications it may have in respect to events that could be added to the Grand Prix weekend.
We will update this post with more info as we get it so stay tuned!
UPDATE: Official press release and a few photos from the event added.
LONG BEACH, Calif. (Feb. 5, 2019) – The Grand Prix Association of Long Beach announced today that it has reached a multi-year agreement with Acura to become title sponsor of the Grand Prix of Long Beach starting in 2019.
The 45th Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach will take place April 12-14, 2019.
Launched in 1986 as the first Japanese luxury automotive brand, Acura is a leading nameplate that delivers Precision Crafted Performance – a commitment to evocative styling, high performance and innovative engineering, all built on a foundation of quality and reliability. Both Acura and its American Honda parent have their U.S. headquarters in Torrance, California.
Last year, Acura made a successful return to the top level of sports car racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, fielding two entries in the Prototype class with Team Penske. The driver combinations of Juan Pablo Montoya/Dane Cameron and Helio Castroneves/Ricky Taylor finished fifth and seventh overall in the championship, with Montoya recording the first pole for the new Acura ARX-05 at Long Beach. Acura also continues to have entries in the series’ GTD class with the NSX GT3 Evo, and has accomplishments at all levels of sports car racing.
Honda has a long, winning history with Indy cars at Long Beach. Honda-powered drivers have won six of the last 10 Grands Prix – and 13 times in 19 appearances – including last year with Alexander Rossi. Native Californian Jimmy Vasser scored Honda’s first Long Beach victory in 1996, with other Honda-powered winners including Alex Zanardi (1997-98), Michael Andretti (2002), Dario Franchitti (2009), Takuma Sato (2013) and James Hinchcliffe (2017).
“With our U.S. headquarters nearby in Torrance, this is a true ‘home’ event for the Acura brand,” said Jon Ikeda, Acura vice president and general manager. “The Grand Prix of Long Beach is one of North America’s premier motorsports events, and an institution in Southern California. Acura is delighted and proud to be associated with the Grand Prix of Long Beach, and we look forward to a long and successful partnership.”
“This is truly the start of a new era in the history of the Grand Prix,” said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. “As we enter our 45th year of conducting America’s #1 street race, we are looking forward with great enthusiasm to this new partnership with a premium luxury brand like Acura. Together we will explore new ways to elevate the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach to greater heights in the coming years.”
Featuring a wide variety of on- and off-track activities for the entire family, the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach will be headlined by the NTT IndyCar Series, as well as the BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix, featuring the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. In addition, the weekend will feature the Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge under the lights on Friday and Saturday nights, Robby Gordon’s Stadium SUPER Trucks, the powerful sports cars of the Pirelli GT4 America series and the Historic IMSA GTO Challenge.
Fans can select and pay for their Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach tickets, parking and paddock passes online at gplb.com, or place orders by calling the toll-free ticket hotline, (888) 827-7333. A printed ticket brochure that includes a circuit map, ticket prices, order form and other information is also available.
Fans can also follow the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on Facebook at GrandPrixLB, Twitter @GPLongBeach and Instagram at GPLongBeach.