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Long Beach track construction begins
The 33rd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach took its first step toward the green flag when construction began this morning on Shoreline Drive, the famed racing circuit's front straightaway. Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster (L, in Gehl forklift) and Grand Prix Association of Long Beach President & CEO Jim Michaelian before and while dropping a concrete block into place.

The setting of the first of more than 14 million pounds of concrete blocks that line the 1.97-mile circuit in downtown Long Beach marks the beginning of two months of work preparing the 11-turn racing circuit for the nearly 200,000 fans expected April 13-15.

Grand Prix Association of Long Beach Director of Operations Dwight Tanaka and his 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.

"We also install porta-johns, hospitality suites, tents, trash containers and a hundred other little things up until race weekend," said Tanaka. "Then Sunday night, when the last race car has left the track, we start taking everything down, inspecting it and getting it ready for 2008."

"We want to keep the circuit exciting for our fans and, of course, competitive and safe for the drivers," said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach.  "While Dwight and his staff do a terrific job, we couldn't do it without the help of many Long Beach city departments and a host of private entities.

"Quite frankly, their support is what helps us make the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach the premier street race in America."

All businesses along the race circuit, which includes Shoreline Drive, Aquarium Way and Pine Ave., will remain open during construction of the racetrack.

Tickets for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, featuring six racing events including  Round Two of the 2007 Champ Car World Series, can be purchased from the Grand Prix ticket office by calling toll-free at (888) 82-SPEED, Ticketmaster or by visiting "longbeachgp.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 range from $25 for Friday general admission up to $120 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, Champ Car Garage passes, super photo tickets and a variety of hospitality club packages are also available.

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