Hunter-Reay drives around the colorful fountain area
With last year's Indy Racing League event coming to the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach for the first time since the union of Champ Car and IRL, organizers hoped they could sustain attendance levels without 2009's merger hype behind them.
And thanks to a crowd buildup that began Thursday, a successful Saturday concert and more activities, at least 170,000 people attended Grand Prix over the three-day weekend, with 65,000 people on Sunday to watch IndyCar Series racer Ryan Hunter-Reay's emotional win.
"Those numbers are comparable to where they were last year, but the fact that we had the benefit last year of the reunification, it was important for us to try to get to that level again this year," Grand Prix Association of Long Beach President and CEO Jim Michaelian said Monday. "And we were successful in doing that. That was a significant achievement, so we were delighted with the numbers."
Several factors made the event a "resounding success," Michaelian said.
"We had more activities on and off the track than ever before and we got started with that huge crowd on Tecate Thunder Thursday on Pine and it just kept on growing right through
race day," he said. Close to 7,000 people also rocked out to classic rockers Cheap Trick on Saturday night.
"It was by far, in terms of the number of people and the whole mood and the atmosphere, it was our most successful of the evening concerts," he said.
"We appealed to a little older demographic than we have in the past few years and we certainly hope to continue that trend." LB Press Telegram
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