The third and final day of the Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach is my personal favorite day because this is the day of “the big race” where the Indy Cars finally go at it full speed on the streets of downtown LB. Another reason why its a favorite of mine is because since the ALMS race is done by Saturday, they clear out their paddock by Saturday night and in its place there is a corral of exotic supercars! It’s like a Cars & Coffee event on a Sunday without having to wake up at the crack of dawn! There were some amazing cars on display in the corral. In fact, some cars were so good that they will be getting their own posts! Sunday is usually the day where I turn off reporter mode and get into fan mode to watch the race, which was pretty crazy by the way! If you didn’t make it out this year I highly, highly reccomend getting tickets and coming to the Grand Prix in 2012. Even if you aren’t local, if you are a racing fan I promise you it will be worth the trip! Below are a few pics from the car corral. If you want to see the rest just head over to our Facebook gallery.
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The second day of the Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach is a favorite among most race fans because not only is it the day of the Toyota Pro Celebrity Race (AKA celebrity pinball) but it is also the day of the American LeMans race. Unlike the other series racing over the weekend the ALMS guys have their main race on Saturday instead of Sunday so that the teams have time to get ready for the 24 hours of Le Mans race in France. This is also the reason why Audi rarely shows up to the Grand Prix Of Long Beach. Saturday is also the day knock-out qualifying for the Indy Cars as well as qualifying for the World Challenge guys. On this day I took the time to take another stroll through the Indy Car Garage as they got ready for qualifying then I visited the ALMS garage as they prepped for the race and camped out at a few spots track side getting shots as they battled it out. You can check out a few pics below and view the full gallery on our Facebook page. You can also get the full results of the ALMS race here. Enjoy!
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April is probably my favorite time of year next to December. Why? By the time April rolls around Formula 1 has already gotten off to its start, Indy Car has begun, Formula D kicks off in Long Beach, and the Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach kicks off a week after! Granted it is a lot of work to cover it all but I still love it! If you don’t know, the Grand Prix Of Long Beach is a combination of races that take place over three days on the literal streets of Long Beach. The nearly 2 mile course takes the drivers down the scenic Shoreline Drive and through other downtown Long Beach landmarks like the Aquarium of the Pacific and the Long Beach Convention center. There is also a “Lifestyle Expo” inside the convention center put on by AAA that usually has some fun stuff going on.
Since it is a “Grand Prix” event, in just this one weekend you can watch several series go at it on the course including Indy Car (main race, American LeMans, Indy Lights, World Challenge, and even a Formula Drift sanctioned “Team Drift” competition (a crowd favorite).
Friday is one of the best days to go because the tickets are cheap, there is no reserved seating on Friday (sit in any grandstand you want), and the teams from all the series are either practicing or getting ready for the weekend so it is a great time to watch badass race cars get prepped by professionals. So, that’s exactly what I did! Friday I cruised around the Expo, paid a visit to the Indy Car garage, World Challenge garage, and American LeMan’s garage. Then, I shot some practice photos as well as a few candids from the Indy Car autograph session.
You can cruse through all the photos in our Facebook gallery. Stay tuned for more galleries and posts from days 2 and 3!
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I waited all year and the time finally came for open wheel racing to come back to town in the form of the IZOD Indy Car Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Last Sunday was race day and I was parked in my usual spot in grandstand 29 along the main straight of Shoreline Drive and waited for the cars to come blasting by me at 180mph into turn 1. With 2 races in the season already completed (St Petersberg and Alabama) victories were split between the Target Chip Ganassi team and Penske Team with one each so fans were playing the “Ganassi or Penske” game coming into this weekend. With Will Power scoring pole position it was looking like the round would go to Penske but then we were reminded that Long Beach is a street course and street courses almost always equal chaos.
The first bit of anarchy started when Helio Castroneves spun Justin Wilson by making contact with him in the hairpin coming on to Shoreline Drive. That mishap brought out a full course yellow which bunched up the field and destroyed any gap that Will Power had built up on the rest of the field. A double file restart was attempted once Justin was clear but the drivers caught stage fright and for the most part stayed in a single file line when the race went green again. Ryan Hunter-Reay managed to snag the lead from Will Power but just when Ryan was starting to get used to being out front another incident with EJ Viso and Danica Patrick brought out another full course yellow which again bunched the field back up and killed any gap that the front runners put on the pack.
This time race control made sure the Indy Cars really did make a double file restart when the track went green again. The result of which was everything going wrong! Helio Castroneves struck again but this time he got into his own teammate Will Power causing both to spin around which totally screwed up Team Penske’s day. Then inexplicably Takuma Sato got a flat and ran into the tires just past the convention center, and a few other rookies mysteriously spun out in the same area just after Sato came to a stop. It was all absolute madness. With all the carnage another full course yellow came out and once things were cleaned up they went for the double file restart once again. This time things went more cleanly, yet things still kicked off with a surprize as Alex Tagliani, Dario Franchitti, and Mike Conway all put pressure on front runners Ryan Briscoe and Ryan Hunter-Reay on the start. First Tagliani seemed to get the jump on the two Ryans but out of no where Mike Conway makes a move on Dario Franchitti then weaves past Tagliani just as Ryan Hunter-Reay’s car decides to take a dump. Then Conway puts a brilliant move on Briscoe to take the lead in the last 6 laps or so and holds on to take his first ever win in the Indy Car Series! It looks like the rest of the season could turn into a three way battle between Ganassi Racing, Team Penske, and Andretti Autosport!
Scroll down for a few highlights from the race and stay tuned for more Grand Prix posts coming up!
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Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach: Mazdaspeed Ladder Driver Conor Daly Wins Firestone Indy Lights Race
In Europe it is Ferrari, Renault, BMW and Red Bull who get all the credit for investing in the development of young drivers but here in America it is Mazda that is taking on the task of bringing young American drivers up through the ranks of amateur racing and into the pros with their Mazdaspeed Ladder program. This weekend the program’s success was proven when Conor Daly (son of former F1 driver Derek Daly) took his first Firestone Indy Lights series victory on the streets of Long Beach in the #77 Mazda “Road To Indy” car some 30 years or so after his father raced on the same course in an F1 car. While Conor didn’t qualify on the pole he was able to pull away with the win by keeping a cool head and consistently putting pressure on any car that was in his sights. After a few of the front runners had mishaps due to car troubles or a lapse of focus Conor made his way to the front and finished in first place under yellow. Congrats to Mazda and Conor for getting their first of many victories in the Indy Lights Series. Scroll down for a few video highlights of the race.
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