Long Beach Readies Itself For The 2010 Toyota Grand Prix
Construction began today on the famed 11-turn, 1.97-mile street circuit that, in just 60 days, will host the cars and stars of the 36th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster poses on K-rail in what will be Turn 10 of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach race course [ctrl-click to launch YouTube video]. Image Credit: Andy Witherspoon - GPALB
Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster ceremoniously kicked off the construction by helping workers install concrete blocks on Shoreline Drive and, over the next two months, the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach (GPALB) will build what is essentially a small town for one weekend.
More than 14 million pounds of concrete blocks that line the race circuit will be set in place, turning Shoreline Drive and downtown Long Beach into a comfortable circuit for more than 175,000 people to enjoy six racing events April 16-18.
Safety First with helmets and vest. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2010)
What stitches all of this event together from a human perspective after the bleachers are up, the circuit is laid out, and the entrance gates are put in place is a group of courageous volunteers known as the Committee Of 300, or just C-300. The members of this group are part of a nonprofit community service organization dedicated to promoting the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and the City of Long Beach. The Committee of 300 became known as "The Redcoats" because of the distinctive red jackets worn by its members. Created in 1975 to assist the inaugural race, the Committee of 300 is always visible during the race weekend, when members serve as grandstand ambassadors, assist in the press facility and manage the Paddock Club.
While the Mayor kicked off the construction of the track today, the Committee Of 300 kicks off its effort for the Grand Prix event on Thursday night, Feb. 18 from 6-9 p.m. with construct of its own, a KICKOFF PARTY held at V2O Nightclub & Events Center, 81 Aquarium Way in downtown Long Beach. This party signals the beginning of the race for the 2010 season of volunteering and camaraderie as it is pursued throughout the year by C-300.
K-rail and bleachers getting ready to form the 36th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. This perspective is from what will become turn 10 looking slightly Northwest toward Pine Avenue. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2010)
It is doubtful that there is another civic-minded organization like it in the whole world. It is the only known organization where anyone can join (social or political pull doesn't count). Only three things are required for membership:
1. Payment of yearly dues.
2. Active participation on race weekend.
3. Exhibiting a desire to become part of a civic-oriented effort to assure the successful growth of the City of Long Beach and its community.
C-300 KICKOFF PARTY 2008 - Just days before the announcement that the ChampCar World Series would merge with the IRL
In addition to its valuable service with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the C-300 can be seen assisting on staffing for the Los Angeles and Orange County Auto Shows, the Belmont Shore Auto Classics Show, the Belmont Shore, Seal Beach, and Daisy Lane holiday parades, and are supporters of the STEEL MAGNOLIAS, an organization for the Stramski Children's Development Center at Memorial Hospital.
Shoreline Drive as it gets lined into a near 190mph race track with the 10,000 pound blocks of concrete known as K-rails [ctrl-click to launch YouTube video] . Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2010)
As far as the track preparations are concerned ... "Race attendees will need everything from luxury suites to rest rooms to trash containers to hundreds of other little, but no less important, things," said Grand Prix Association of Long Beach director of operations Dwight Tanaka.
"Our staff of 40 will put in more than 30,000 working hours installing concrete blocks, three miles of fencing and 16,000 bolted-together tires, along with 15 huge spectator grandstands, seven pedestrian bridges and eight giant-vision boards for full-circuit TV coverage." continued Dwight, "And then, we're only half-done. Beginning Sunday night, we start taking everything down, inspecting it and getting ready again for 2011."
The 36th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will feature 2009 Long Beach winner Dario Franchitti, Danica Patrick and the rest of the IZOD IndyCar Series stars, along with the always-popular Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, Tequila Patron American Le Mans Series race, Firestone Indy Lights, Team Drifting Challenge and SCCA Pro World Challenge Championships.
Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster (left) and President/CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach Jim Michaelian are happy to get this party started. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2010)
"It's a team effort to construct a circuit which is challenging for the drivers and provides a variety of spectacular views for our fans," said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. "Dwight and his staff, together with the City of Long Beach and our suppliers, deserve an enormous amount of credit for building a world-class circuit while, at the same time, minimizing the impact on downtown."
Tickets for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach can be purchased from the Grand Prix ticket office by calling toll-free at (888) 82-SPEED, Ticketmaster or by visiting www.gplb.com. A handy ticket brochure - which includes circuit map, grandstand and parking locations, ticket prices and order form - can be obtained by calling the ticket hotline.
Ticket prices, which remain unchanged for the second straight year, range from $25 for Friday general admission up to $125 for a three-day ticket that includes Saturday and Sunday reserved seats in upper levels of the grandstands. Pre-paid parking packages are also available when ordering through the Grand Prix Ticket Office. Handicapped seating, IndyCar Paddock passes, Super Photo tickets and a variety of hospitality club packages are also available.
Of course, if paying for tickets is not your thing, and you would rather be a part of the show as opposed to just watching the show, come to the Committee Of 300 KICKOFF PARTY Thursday night, Feb. 18 from 6-9 p.m. at V2O Nightclub & Events Center, 81 Aquarium Way in downtown Long Beach. Volunteer and meet the Mayor of Long Beach, Bob Foster, members of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach and the supporting cast of this 36th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach ... the C-300!
... notes from The EDJE