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Construction begins on Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Track
Just two months to go until Southern California's annual rite of spring!

Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster at the construction site on Shoreline Drive
Andy Witherspoon/City of Long Beach
Construction began on the famous 11-turn, 1.97-mile Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach race circuit on Wednesday morning with the help of Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster. Over the next two months, more than 14 million pounds of concrete blocks that line the race circuit will be set in place, turning Shoreline Drive in downtown Long Beach into a 200-mph straightaway for six racing events April 16-19.

The 35th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will feature the cars and stars of the IndyCar Series for the first time, along with the return of the popular American Le Mans Series, Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, Formula Drift, and SPEED World Challenge. The Firestone Indy Lights series will run here for the first time since 2001.

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 like we build a small town for a weekend," said Tanaka. "With more than 175,000 people expected to attend the race, they'll need everything from hospitality suites to rest rooms to trash containers to a hundred other little things.

"And building it is only half our job.  On Sunday night, when the last race engine is switched off, we'll start taking everything down, inspect all of it and start getting it ready again for 2010."

"Every year, Dwight and his staff, with the help of our suppliers and the City of Long Beach, do a tremendous job constructing a circuit which is challenging for the drivers and provides a variety of spectacular viewing areas for our fans," said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach.  "They're able to do 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, Pine Ave. and Seaside Way, will remain open during construction of the racetrack.

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 from 2008, 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.

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