Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach Day 2: American Le Mans Race

Posted on 04.20.09 | Andrew Beckford No Comments

Some might have told you that the big ticket for the second day of the Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach was the Toyota Pro Celebrity Race (AKA Scion pinball) but the real action was the American LeMans race.  Four different classes of race cars lined up on the streets of Long Beach and it was my chance to see cars like the Mazda Lola Coupe, Falken Porsche RSR, and the Rahal Letterman Racing BMW M3’s up close and personal.

The race was absolutely nuts.  There was everything from controversial penalties to a Corvette spontaneously combusting! Don’t worry about that last part though the driver (Boris Said) got out ok.

In the P2 class the Mazdas was taking it to the Acuras and were leading the class for a good portion of the race.  This was a pretty impressive feat for Mazda considering that their Lola B09 coupe is so new that the paint is still drying.  Although, despite an impressive run the Fernandez Racing P2 Acura was able to take the lead away from Mazda in pit lane.  However Mazda was still able to keep the Acura’s in their sights and earned second and third on the podium.

The story in P1 was the battle between Gil De Ferran’s Acura team and the Tequila Patron Highcroft Acura’s.  The Tequila Patron team is used to being on top but legendary Honda/Acura driver Gil De Ferrran wasn’t having it.  Gil has raced on the streets of Long Beach many times in his legendary career but never managed to win.  He was a runner up many times but couldn’t quite get his feet on the top spot of the podium…until this weekend.   He and teammate Simon Pagenaud were able to hold off Scott Sharp and David Brabham to take the win.  A controversial pit lane call against the Highcroft team didn’t hurt Gil’s efforts either.  More on that below.

In the GT2 Class things got hot…literally.  Things were going fine until one #28 Riley Corvette driven by Boris Said suddenly burst into flames.  Boris must have saw it coming because during the replay you could see that he already had the door open and was ripping himself out of his harness before the car even came to a complete stop.  Luckily Boris was ok and suffered only minor injuries.

The American Le Mans race is in my opinion the best part of the weekend short of the main event.  If you didn’t make it out to Long Beach this year I highly suggest that you start planning for next year.  I guarantee you’ll have a blast.

Now check out SPEED’s recap of the race and after that a few pictures taken by yours truly.

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2009 Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach: Day 1

Posted on 04.17.09 | Andrew Beckford No Comments

So the first day is wrapped up and I’m already tired!  It was pretty eventful with Indy Car practice and qualifiying for two different events (ALMS and Pro Celebrity).  I tried my best to keep up with Indy Practice via the MotorworldHype twitter page but my phone got a little dicy.  I should do better tomorrow.

One of the biggest news bits today was that Helio Castroneves was aquitted on almost all counts of tax evasion and will be returning to Team Penske and jumping in the #3 car this weekend.  Will Power will be joining him in the #12 Verizon Wireless sponsored Penske car while Ryan Briscoe will remain in the #6.  So now the Indy Grid has to worry about a Penske tripple threat.

In some other Indy news it was announced that Paul Tracy would join the KV Racing team for the Indy 500 with backing from Geico insurance.

Also on the menu today was Toyota Celebrity (AKA demolition derby) qualifying.  Its so fun to watch these people pinball around the track!  Some of them did pretty well though all things considered.  Heck, Farnsworth Bentley qualified 3rd among the celebs despite bouncing off concrete and tires earlier in the day.  Pro-skater Danny Way qualified first with Keanu “Neo” Reeves qualifying second.  Make sure to stay tuned to the MotorworldHype twitter page tomorrow at 11:40am california time as I’ll be tweeting the race live.

On the American LeMans (ALMS) tip the P2 Mazda Lola coupe was only a few tenths off from the Fernandez racing Acura.  It looks like its going to be a tight race between the only two Japanese manufacturers in the Series.  The Rahal BMW M3s qualified 4th and 5th respectively in the GT2 class while Falken Tire’s Porsche 911 RSR qualified 8th in GT2 just ahead of Boris Said in the Riley Corvette.

Tomorrow is race day for ALMS and I might be in Mazda’s pit box tweeting the race live.  I’ll give you guys a heads up on that tomorrow.

For now check out some of my day 1 pictures.  There will be much more tomorrow!

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