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Long Beach GP track construction begins
Long Beach GP
The first step toward turning Shoreline Drive in downtown Long Beach into a 200-mph front straightaway took place this morning as construction began for the 34th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

The first of more than 14 million pounds of concrete blocks that line the 1.97-mile circuit in downtown Long Beach was set in place, with the help of Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster. It marks the beginning of two months of work preparing the 11-turn racing circuit for race weekend April 18-20.

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.

"It's similar to setting up a small town for a weekend," said Tanaka.  "With more than 175,000 people expected to attend, they'll need everything from hospitality suites to rest rooms to trash containers to a hundred other little things.

"And that's only half our job.  Come Sunday night, when the last race engine is switched off, we'll take everything apart, inspect it and start getting it all ready again for 2009."

"Year in and year out, Dwight and his staff, in conjunction with our suppliers and the City of Long Beach, do a tremendous job constructing a circuit which is challenging for the drivers as well as providing a variety of spectacular viewing areas for our fans," said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach LLC.  "They accomplish this while making a strong effort to minimize the impact on downtown businesses."

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  the opening round of the 2008 Champ Car World Series and the 32nd Annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, 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 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, Champ Car Paddock passes, super photo tickets and a variety of hospitality club packages are also available.

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