Other drivers may have more starts at Long Beach but no one in the American Le Mans Series goes back further there than Corvette Racing’s Johnny O’Connell. The American Le Mans Series’ leader in career starts (among other categories), O’Connell is entered in one of Corvette Racing’s two Corvette C6.Rs…22 years after racing for the first time on southern California’s famed street circuit.
O’Connell placed 17th at Long Beach in 1986 as part of a Formula Mazda race. Three years later he made his first Indy Lights start there (with a best showing of fifth in 1990) before posting the same result in a 1996 Trans-Am Long Beach race.
O’Connell and Jan Magnussen will attempt to repeat their GT1 victory from a year ago in Corvette Racing’s final American Le Mans Series appearance in the class. The team is planning to debut its GT2 Corvette in August at Mid-Ohio.
Also of note, Scott Sharp will return to Long Beach 20 years after his first race there (in Trans-Am). Patr¢n Highcroft Racing’s American star won in LMP2 last year with David Brabham, and the pairing is shooting for a repeat – this time in LMP1 with the new Acura ARX-02a. Sharp also has raced at Long Beach with CART.
Bill Auberlen made his first Long Beach start in 1990 with IMSA GTU as well as Formula Atlantic in the mid-90s. After missing last year’s race, he’ll be back with Joey Hand behind the wheel of a BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team BMW M3.
The Tequila Patr¢n American Le Mans Series at Long Beach is set for 4:15 p.m. PT on Saturday, April 18 from the famed Long Beach street circuit in southern California. The race will be televised from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 19 on ABC. Qualifying is scheduled for 4 p.m. PT on Friday, April 17. American Le Mans Radio and Live Timing and Scoring will be available at americanlemans.com. The race also will be aired on XM Channel 242 and Sirius Channel 126 from 7 to 9 p.m. ET on Saturday.
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