39TH LONG BEACH GRAND PRIX – by the numbers

Jim Michaelian
Jim Michaelian

JIM MICHAELIAN, President & CEO of the Grand Prix of Long Beach, said Sunday night after the 39th running of the iconic street race, that while he couldn’t announce this weekend’s attendance until the final numbers were in Monday morning, he felt the three-day figures for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach were the best in the last four years.

Monday, Michaelian amended his timeline, saying the final figures weren’t in yet, but he hopes to have them by midweek.

Thursday at the Eighth Annual Walk of Fame ceremonies, Michaelian had predicted 170,000 for the weekend’s attendance. Last year’s announced attendance was 172,000; and previous years – 175,000 for 2011; 170,000+ for 2010; 175,000 for 2009; and 170,000 in 2008.

Something crops up often at races – rumors. Long Beach was no exception.

This past week there was talk about IndyCar’s future at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, and would IndyCar be replaced by Formula One – the race series originally run on the Long Beach street course, when it had a different configuration. All Michaelian would say when we spoke at 6pm Sunday night: “The IndyCar contract expired an hour ago.” In other words, this was the last year of the current IndyCar contract.

One of the rumors has BERNIE ECCLESTONE really pushing for Formula One to come back to Long Beach, as he really wants the Southern California market and would be willing to buy the event if possible. Some rumors link Bernie with CHRIS POOK, the founder of the race, and the boss for whom Michaelian worked since the first year – until Pook retired and Michaelian became President. Pook was in town Thursday night for the annual RRDC dinner, honoring BRIAN REDMAN, but basically said No Comment when asked about the rumors. He did say that he had been receiving lots of phone calls since the rumors began.