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Long Beach track prep officially begins

February 16, 2016
Michaelian schools Garcia

Grand Prix Association of Long Beach CEO Jim Michaelian schools Mayor Robert Garcia on the inner workings of a Verizon IndyCar Series DW12 race car – Anne Proffit photo

The 42nd annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach kicked off officially on February 16, with construction barriers set in place by Mayor Robert Garcia, who also took time to sit in a Verizon IndyCar Series Dallara DW12. Garcia said he’s looking forward to driving the track once the 1.97-mile, 11-corner scenic road course is completed.

While this was the official kickoff, construction crews have already been busy prepping the track for three weekends of racing. The triple header starts with the stealthy, silent international Formula E series the first Saturday of April, followed a week later by the noise and tire smoke of Formula Drift.

Michaelian, Santillan, Garcia, Tanaka

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia places a concrete block in place at Turn 10, under the watchful eyes of Jim Michaelian, Peter Santillan of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) and circuit director of operations Dwight Tanaka – Anne Proffit photo

The 42nd annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach offers six races over three days. The premier event has the cars and stars of the Verizon IndyCar Series as Sunday’s feature race, IMSA’s Saturday WeatherTech Sports Car championship, Sunday’s Pirelli World Challenge contest, Toyota Pro/Celebrity race on Saturday, Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge on Friday and Saturday nights and the SPEED Energy Stadium Super Trucks account for two weekend events.

The complete track that abuts Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific is only used on the final weekend of April 15-17, and that is less than 60 days away. While some concrete blocks are already in place on Shoreline Drive, the front straight, The Grand Prix Association of Long Beach needs the full complement of time to properly complete the racetrack for the longest continuous street race in the United States.

banners in place1

Banners for the 42nd Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach are already in place downtown – Anne Proffit photo

The first race was in September of 1975 and featured SCCA/USAC Formula 5000; Formula One arrived six months later, only to be supplanted by CART in 1984. Various Indy car entities have raced at Long Beach ever since.

GPALB CEO Jim Michaelian raced in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, completing two night stints in a Lamborghini Huracan GT3. Perhaps he’ll give the Mayor some tips before allowing him on the road course?

Words and Photos By Anne Proffit

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