This weekend marks the fortieth consecutive running of the annual granddaddy of street races, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. As always, there is a full program of races. This weekend including the feature Verizon IndyCar Series, the TUDOR United Sports Car Championship with its Tequila Patron Sports Car Showcase, Indy Lights Series presented by Cooper Tires, Pirelli World Challenge with the GT Classes, Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge, and Speed Energy Formula Off-Road presented by Traxxas-the Robby Gordon Stadium Truck Series. And that’s just on track.
Off track there are exhibits, displays and lots of vendors.
Friday’s weather is bright and sunny, with a chill … so far. While it’s slated for a 64F degrees high, which was reached by 9:30am. at 8:30am it was already 61 degrees and climbing. This week’s weather hasn’t been what was forecast. Wednesday it was 86 degrees F, not the forecast 72. Thursday started out with a heavy fog, which burned off sunny with an autumn type of crispness, and the cloud cover returned mid-afternoon.
Friday’s schedule is Practice for IndyCar, Indy Lights, and World Challenge; with practice and qualifying for USCC, Pro/Celebrities and Drifters. It’s a long grueling schedule for the volunteer SCCA marshals, starting at 7:40am and going until the last checkered flag at 9pm. LINDA HANELINE, Cal Club Region of Sports Car Club of America, is the Flag Chief, heading up a team of marshals from near and far.
The fields are wide and varied. IndyCars have 23 cars this weekend, one more than the season’s opener at St. Pete, with the addition of ORIOL SERVIA running one of his ‘selected’ races with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda. Its field includes three Rookies – MIKHAIL ALESHIN of Russia/Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, CARLOS HUERTAS of Colombia/Dale Coyne Racing Honda, and CARLOS MUNOZ of Colombia/Andretti-HVM Honda. Indy Lights, one of the Mazda Road to Indy Series, has twelve entries, including nine Rookies. The USCC Sports Car Showcase has two of its several classes running, Prototype-11 cars, and GT Le Mans-10 cars.
World Challenge has the largest field of the weekend, with 40 cars in its three classes: GT-11, GT-A-9, and GTS-20. Nineteen Toyota drivers in identical Scions are in three classes – two amateur groups, Whites-ten drivers and six drivers in the Silvers. The three Reds are Pro drivers; AL UNSER, Jr, KYLE PETTY, and RUTLEDGE WOOD. This year car colors are being included to help identify the drivers. The Drifters and Trucks haven’t yet provided their entry lists.