This Monday morning saw the kick-off celebration of the conversion of the streets around Long Beach's Shoreline Drive and Long Beach Convention Center into the racing venue known every spring as the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. A process that has taken place 37 time before, and the 38th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is set to take place April 13-15, 2012.
Street course motorsports racing strikes many casual event goers as something that is simple and oddly natural in its creation. "Hey, we drive on streets, so why don't we just close them off and race on them" ... they muse to themselves, while not knowing exactly what is involved with their simple and oddly natural thought processes.
The fact of the matter, it take a huge amount of concrete and effort to magically transform a street into a stable and safe motorsports racing facility. Grand Prix Association of Long Beach Director of Operations Dwight Tanaka and his staff will put in more than 30,000 working hours installing 14 million pounds of concrete blocks that line the track, three miles of fencing and 16,000 bolted-together tires, along with 16 huge spectator grandstands, seven pedestrian bridges and giant-vision boards for full-circuit TV coverage.
The construction got underway with assists from Long Beach Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal and TruSpeed Motorsports Pirelli World Challenge team owner/driver Rob Morgan, who appeared at the track for a kickoff photo shoot with his #1 TruSpeed Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3, which was the championship-winning car in the series’ GT category last year.
Entering its 23rd consecutive season, the Pirelli World Challenge (which will join the IZOD IndyCar Series, the American Le Mans Series, Firestone Indy Lights, Team Drifting Challenge, and Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race weekend events) is one of North America's top production car-based racing championships. Divided into four separate categories (GT, GTS, Touring Car, and Touring Car B-Spec), races feature thrilling standing starts, adrenaline filled door-to-door action and world-class drivers. The Pirelli World Challenge features cars from the world's most popular manufacturers – race-prepped versions of the cars driven on the streets. Sanctioned by SCCA Pro Racing, the series races at North America's premier road and temporary street courses.
Morgan’s Costa Mesa-based TruSpeed Motorsports team is preparing to contest the SCCA's GT car 2012 Pirelli World Challenge season which gets underway March 23-25 with a doubleheader at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The plan of TruSpeed Motorsports is to field three cars for the entire eight venue, twelve race GT/GTS Pirelli World Challenge 2012 season.
"We feel honored to help kick off the Grand Prix,” Morgan said. “When you look at the 38 year history and heritage of the event, it’s one of the best in the world. It’s also our home race, so we’re glad to be here today. We will be running three cars in the race ... possibly four. But to be involved in something like this is wonderful. The last two years we have participated in the media 'Press Day' with a couple of race cars, giving the [track] rides and so forth, and this is another way we can promote and enhance our relationship with Jim Michaelian, the race, and the City of Long Beach."
|Dwight Tanaka, Grand Prix Association of Long Beach Director of Operations and his staff also install hospitality suites, tents, electrical equipment, phones, porta-johns, trash containers and a hundred other little things up until race weekend. Then on Sunday night, when the last race car has left the track, they start to take everything down, inspect the gear and get everything ready for next year when the grand prix magic begins all over again. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2012)|
It takes two months to prepare this part of the City of Long Beach for the 175,000 fans expected during race weekend. All businesses along the race circuit, which includes Shoreline Drive, Aquarium Way and Pine Ave., will remain open during construction of the racetrack.
"We want to make sure that our course is both safe and competitive, and Dwight and is staff as well as the Long Beach city departments deliver on all accounts,” said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. “That phenomenal support is what helps us make the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach America’s number one street race.”
Fans can select and pay for their 2012 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach seats, parking, and paddock passes online at gplb.com. Ticket orders can also be placed by calling the toll-free ticket hotline, (888) 82-SPEED. Ticket prices range from $26 for a Friday General Admission ticket to $130 for a three-day ticket that includes Sat./Sun. reserved seating in grandstand upper levels.
Pre-paid parking packages are also available, along with handicapped seating, IndyCar Paddock passes, Super Photo tickets and a wide variety of Hospitality Club packages including the exciting Vista Club – featuring a nearly 360-degree view of the race circuit – located high atop the Hyatt Regency Long Beach.
Fans can also follow the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Facebook at GrandPrixLB and on Twitter @ToyotaGPLB.
So if you were one of those people who mused that Street Course racing was something that is simple and oddly natural in its creation ... you're right, close your eyes and "voila" ... the Grand Prix magic will appear in Long Beach April 13-15, 2012 at the 38th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
... notes from The EDJE
** Article first published as TruSpeed Motorsports And City Of Long Beach Launch Grand Prix Magic on Technorati **