The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach has a lot of racing and activity during the three-day weekend. Among the support races were Pirelli World Challenge, Formula Drift and this year an exhibition ‘race’ by the new Robby Gordon Stadium Trucks.
JAMES SOFRONAS/GMG Audi won overall and in the GT class for the Pirelli World Challenge race at the end of Sunday’s festivities. He inherited the lead when the leader, JOHNNY O’CONNELL/Cadillac Racing expired on the track on the White Flag lap. O’Connell’s, teammate, ANDY PILGRIM came in second. Finishing third overall was MIKE SKEEN/CRP Racing Corvette.
LAWSON ASCHENBACH/Blackdog Racing Corvette finished first in the GTS class, after an over-achieving weekend of commuting between Long Beach and Road Atlanta for two separate sports car races. He won in Long Beach, but wasn’t as lucky in Georgia in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race. His car was very fast, but there were two bad pit stops, and he finished seventh overall and in the CTSCC GS class, driving one of two CKS Autosport Camaros, co-driving with ERIC CURRAN. The sister CKS car finished fourteenth in class and overall, with drivers ASHLEY McCALMONT and BOB MICHAELIAN, son of JIM MICHAELIAN, President/CEO of the Grand Prix of Long Beach. Both father and son are racers, and sometimes race together.
Back to Lawson’s busy weekend. He started in Road Atlanta Wednesday and Thursday for CTSCC. Friday morning he flew to Long Beach for World Challenge practice, and then caught the red-eye back to Road Atlanta, where he went straight to the track. After the two-hour Saturday race, he flew back to Long Beach, and at 8am Sunday he qualified on the GTS pole. Then … he got a long nap at the hotel prior to his 4:30pm race.
Second and third in GTS were veteran sedan racer, P.D.CUNNINGHAM in the RealTime Racing Acura, and even more veteran racer, JACK BALDWIN/GTSport Racing Porsche Cayman. Baldwin won the last race in St. Petersburg.
One of the other support events was the new Robby Gordon Stadium Truck Series, with an exhibition race Sunday noon. Portable wooden jumps were at the Turn Eleven exit, along with two chicanes on the front straight and near Turn One.
The SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks Grand Prix of Long Beach was Round Two in an eleven-race schedule. JUSTIN LOFTON won, followed by series owner, ROBBY GORDON, and veteran off-road racer, ROB MacCACHREN, who continues to lead the standings with 68 points. Lofton is now second, tied with Gordon with 63 points. Tied for fourth are P.J. JONES and JUSTIN MATNEY with 41 points.
Trucks Feature (8 Laps): 1. Justin Lofton; 2. Robby Gordon; 3. Rob MacCachren; 4. Ricky Johnson; 5. P.J. Jones; 6. Mike Jenkins; 7. Arie Lyendyk Jr.; 8. Jeff Ward; 9. Justin Matney; 10. Nick Baumgartner; 11. Greg Adler; 12. Lalo Laguna.
Stadium SUPER Trucks Qualifying: 1. Justin Lofton 1:47:775; 2. Jeff Ward 1:49:615; 3. Robby Gordon 1:51:296; 4. Rob MacCachren 1:52:386; 5. Lalo Laguna 1:53:112; 6. Arie Luyendyk 1:53:733; 7. P.J. Jones 1:54:146; 8. Ricky Johnson 1:54:479; 9. Justin Matney 1:55:010; 10. Mike Jenkins 1:55:101; 11. Greg Adler 1:56:229; 12. Nick Baumgartner 1:57:321.
Formula Drift was again on the schedule – for the eight straight year. This time the Drifters expanded their event to Friday and Saturday evenings, in one section of the 1.968-mile street course. The grandstands in the Turns Nine, Ten, and Eleven area were full, and a good time was had by all. Enough so that the event ran past the 9pm scheduled finish.
The winner was DAIJIRO YOSHIHARA of Japan, with Americans VAUGHN GITTIN as second and third place finishers.
TYLER McQUARRIE of Danville CA raced his Camaro in the last round against winner Yoshihara. Joining McQuarrie this year, for select races, will be another SF Bay Area racer, IZOD IndyCar driver, J.R. HILDEBRAND, of Sausalito CA.