Six races are on the schedule for this weekend's 42nd Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, a motor sports street party on a tightly packed street course that promises wheel-to-wheel competition.
Drivers will carve their way through the 1.9-mile, 11-turn track where a mistake often means contact with the unforgiving walls lining the course and dramatic changes in position. Several different types of race cars, from sports cars to open-wheel racers, will be on track before Sunday's main event.
The event's history dates to the mid-1970s, when the powerful and lightweight open-wheel Formula 5000 cars stormed the track in the first Long Beach Grand Prix, a race won by Brian Redman after early leaders Tony Brice and Mario Andretti broke. Long Beach soon attracted the world's most prestigious series, Formula 1, and its internationally famed drivers and teams. In 1977 American Mario Andretti won, becoming the only American to win a USGP. The race was a 3-way battle the entire way between Andretti, Jody Scheckter and Niki Lauda. They were nose-to-tail the entire way and it still, to this day, is the greatest ever Long Beach GP
The final F1 race in Long Beach was in 1983, but IndyCar took over in 1984 and Mario Andretti won in '84 and '85 much to the delight of the crowd. Huge crowds would come to Shoreline Drive for years to come.
Here's a quick look at what to watch at the 2016 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
The weekend features six races with different types of race cars — even within the same race. The International Motor Sports Association series features both prototype and production-based cars on the track at the same time. Look for purpose-built race cars alongside Ferraris, Porsches, BMWs and Corvettes.
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]The Verizon IndyCar series is the Sunday feature event. These open-wheel race cars have complex aero packages that produce high down force, allowing talented drivers to corner with speed.
A field with about 40 sports cars makes up the Pirelli World Challenge. Makes include Acura, Bentley, Porsche, Dodge, Chevy, Cadillac, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mercedes and Porsche. The race is usually one of the most action-packed of the weekend.
The SPEED Energy Stadium Super Trucks offers something completely different. Ramp jumping trucks bring the desert to the streets for two weekend races.
Everything goes up in smoke when the Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge cars screech around the track. Drivers slip and slide in a controlled drift around the street circuit.
Finally, stars will be in race cars for the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race on Sunday for a 10-lap sprint for charity.
|2016 Circuit Map|
IndyCar Fast Facts
Track: Streets of Long Beach, a 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street course (clockwise)
Race distance: 80 laps / 157.44 miles
IndyCar List: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (PDF)
Push-to-pass parameters: 10 activations for 20 seconds each
Firestone tire allotment: Four sets primary, three sets alternate
Event website: www.gplb.com
INDYCAR website: www.IndyCar.com
2015 race winner: Scott Dixon (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet)
2015 Verizon P1 Award winner: Helio Castroneves (No. 3 Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet),1:06.6294, 106.331 mph
Qualifying lap record: Helio Castroneves, 1:06.6294, 106.331 mph, April 18, 2015
NBCSN race broadcast: Sunday, April 17 (4 p.m. ET)
NBCSN qualifying broadcast: Saturday, April 16 (6 p.m. ET, tape delayed)
Rick Allen will be the play-by-play announcer for NBCSN's broadcast of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Marty Snider, Kevin Lee, Katie Hargitt and Robin Miller are the pit reporters.
Radio broadcasts: The Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network is led by chief announcer Mark Jaynes, with analyst Davey Hamilton. Turn reporters are Jake Query and Nick Yeoman, with Rob Howden and Michael Young reporting from the pits. All Verizon IndyCar Series races are broadcast live on network affiliates, Sirius 212, XM 209, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app. Qualifying broadcasts are available on Sirius 212, XM 209, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app. Practice sessions are on IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app.
INDYCAR Mobile App: Verizon Wireless puts fans around the world in the driver's seat with its INDYCAR Mobile app. The app has been enhanced with new features to keep fans in the know of the latest race-day action. Exclusive features of the INDYCAR Mobile app for Verizon Wireless customers will stream live through the app and includes enhanced real-time leaderboard and car telemetry; the ability to follow the race in real time with the interactive 3D track; live in-car camera video streaming for select drivers during Verizon IndyCar Series races; live driver and pit crew radio transmissions during races and live Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network audio streaming during all track activities.
At-track schedule (all times local):
Friday, April 15
10-10:45 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #1, streaming on RaceControl.IndyCar.com (Live)
2-2:45 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #2, streaming on RaceControl.IndyCar.com (Live)
Saturday, April 16
10-10:45 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #3, streaming on RaceControl.IndyCar.com (live)
2 p.m. – Qualifying for the Verizon P1 Award (three rounds of Verizon IndyCar Series qualifications), streaming on RaceControl.IndyCar.com (live); NBCSN (taped, 3 p.m.)
Sunday, April 17
9-9:30 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series warm-up, streaming on RaceControl.IndyCar.com (Live)
1 p.m. – NBCSN on air
1:45 p.m. – Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (80 laps/157.44 miles), NBCSN (Live)
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]* Scott Dixon and Target Chip Ganassi Racing won the Verizon IndyCar Series' return to Phoenix International Raceway, winning the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix in dominating fashion. Dixon, who claimed his first win at Long Beach in 2015, aims for back-to-back wins at the Beach in pursuit of his fifth series title.
* This weekend's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will mark the 33rd Indy car event on the historic street circuit. Mario Andretti won the first Indy car race there in 1984. Dixon was the 2015 race winner, claiming his first win at Long Beach. Sebastien Bourdais (2005-2007) was the last repeat winner at Long Beach.
* Al Unser Jr. has won the most times at Long Beach (six), while Bourdais and Will Power are the only entered drivers with multiple wins. Bourdais won three straight races from 2005-2007. Power won in 2008 and 2012. Other former race winners scheduled to compete are: Juan Pablo Montoya (1999), Helio Castroneves (2001), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2010), Takuma Sato (2013) and Dixon (2015).
* Team Penske drivers have won five of the last seven poles at Long Beach: Castroneves, who set the lap record in 2015, Power from 2009-2011 and Ryan Briscoe in 2012. In addition to Castroneves and Power, other past pole winners entered in this year's race are: Hunter-Reay (2014), Bourdais (2006-2007) and Tony Kanaan (1999).
* Four drivers have won the race from the pole – Mario Andretti (1984, 1985 and 1987), Unser Jr. (1989-90), Castroneves (2001) and Bourdais (2006-07).
* Nineteen drivers entered in the event have competed in Indy car races at Long Beach. Twelve of those drivers have led laps: Bourdais 169, Power 162, Castroneves 132, Hunter-Reay 122, Dixon 69, Sato 66, Marco Andretti 64, Kanaan 51, Montoya 40, Simon Pagenaud 26, Jack Hawksworth 4 and Josef Newgarden 1.
* Rookies Max Chilton and Alexander Rossi will compete in their first Verizon IndyCar Series race on the streets of Long Beach. Chilton, who leads the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings by five points over Rossi and seven points over Conor Daly, competed on the circuit in Indy Lights in 2015.
* Kanaan seeks to start his 252nd consecutive race, which would extend his Indy car-record streak that began in 2001 at Portland. Teammate Dixon has made 193 consecutive starts, which is tied for the third-longest streak in Indy car racing.
* Dixon, the longest-tenured driver for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, is tied with Al Unser for fourth on the all-time Indy car victory list with 39.
* The 2016 season is the second in which aerodynamic bodywork component kits are used. The aero kits, produced by engine manufacturers Chevrolet and Honda for their respective supplied teams, are the latest technical innovation to enhance on-track performance through competitive aerodynamic development. Each manufacturer produces two kits for teams – one for short ovals/road courses/street courses and another for superspeedway ovals – but within each kit, teams have multiple component options available.
* The second season of aero kit competition complements the fifth year of engine manufacturer competition between Chevrolet and Honda with their 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 engines. It will be another season testing speed and durability to determine the manufacturer champion.
* The No. 22 DeVilbiss Team Penske Chevrolet crew of Simon Pagenaud won the Firestone Pit Stop Performance Award during the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix. The No. 22 Team Penske crew will receive its $10,000 award during pre-race festivities at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Pre-Race Driver Quotes:
|Juan Montoya in 2015|
Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "It will be good to get back on track this weekend at Long Beach with the Verizon Chevy. I've always liked racing at Long Beach. We won there back in 1999, but that's been a long time. We've been pretty strong there the last couple of years, running in the top five, and hopefully we'll be in a good position to continue that this weekend. We always get a great crowd at Long Beach – it's one of the best atmospheres for racing that we have in the Verizon IndyCar Series. It's like a big party at the beach and I'm hoping we'll have good reason to celebrate with everyone on Sunday after the race."
Helio Castroneves (No. 3 Auto Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet): "It's always a lot of fun racing in Long Beach. It's incredible that this will be 42 years that this event is here. There's so much tradition and history with this race and it's a pretty special event to have on our Verizon IndyCar Series calendar every year. I remember when we won at Long Beach in 2001. That was awesome and we've been close a few other times, including last year when we won the pole and finished second. We will be looking for our first win of 2016 on Sunday in the No. 3 Auto Club of Southern California Chevy and Long Beach will be a great place to do it."
James Hinchcliffe (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): "Long Beach is one of the best events on the calendar. There's a reason it's been around more than 40 years. The track, the city, the events around town, they're all great. Long Beach has been nice to me in the past, so hopefully we can have a solid weekend there after a few tough events and really kick off the season."
Mikhail Aleshin (No. 7 SMP Racing Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): "I loved the Long Beach track from the first laps I turned there in 2014. It's a great street-course track and very technical. Long Beach has a great and long history, which I'm proud to be a part of. We will have only one goal for this event, the same as for every other race: to win."
Max Chilton (No. 8 Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): "I think we should be optimistic for Long Beach this weekend with the Gallagher team. I raced in Indy Lights here last year so I have some knowledge of the circuit. We have one street race under our belts in St. Petersburg this year, so there were a lot of lessons learned that can be applied here. Scott (Dixon) is the defending winner and really knows how to get around this place as well, so I'll be looking to him for pointers before we get started on track Friday."
Scott Dixon (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): "Long Beach has such an amazing history. It's a truly iconic American event that started gaining a lot of popularity with Formula One back in the day. With the layout of the track it's truly one of the best street circuits anywhere around, and more importantly you actually get to race there. It took me forever to get to victory lane there, but we managed to accomplish that last year and I hope we can return to that form again this year."
Tony Kanaan (No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet): "Coming off such an exciting race in Phoenix where we were so close to getting on the podium, I'm definitely ready to get out onto the streets of Long Beach and see what we can do there. I love how much history the Long Beach race has and how the Long Beach fans really embrace the event. The No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet has started the season out strong with two top-10 finishes and we really want to carry that momentum out to the West Coast."
|Bourdais' livery for Long Beach|
Sebastien Bourdais (No. 11 KVSH Racing Chevrolet): "Considering how late things got under way this year, we have had a decent start to the season. We showed some pace in qualifying at St. Petersburg, but had some issues in the race. At Phoenix, we didn't qualify well, but on race day, the team really came together and we had a solid result (finishing eighth). Long Beach, hopefully, will be another step towards running at the front again. I've had a lot of success at Long Beach, but the last few years have been more difficult for me, between lack of pace or mistakes. That being said, we salvaged a pretty good sixth place in 2015. The Long Beach circuit is a challenge. There are all types of corners and different surfaces you have to contend with, so getting the right setup is challenging. Because it is a street circuit, qualifying is extremely important. It is a great event because of the atmosphere. Next to the Indy 500, it is the premier event on our schedule. You also have to remember that one of our team owners, Kevin Kalkhoven, co-owns the race, so the entire team would like to do well for him."
Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "I was happy to get a strong result at Phoenix, which was really the start of our 2016 season. We needed to score some good points and we did with a solid finish on the oval. Now, we get back to the street this weekend in Long Beach and I'm excited to see if we can keep up the momentum there. The No. 12 Verizon Chevy has been good at Long Beach, but we've also had some bad luck there, like last year when we got caught out in qualifying and had some issues in the race. I love this circuit and racing in front of all the fans at Long Beach, so we'll be aiming to get back on track this weekend."
Takuma Sato (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda): "Long Beach is always a special place for me. I simply love the venue, atmosphere, great restaurants, enthusiastic fans and, of course, I enjoy driving the track so much. It holds an incredible memory for me (winning in 2013). So I am looking forward to going back there very much. Long Beach is a low-grip track and it has the tightest hairpin in the series and a bumpier surface than St. Pete, so it needs more force for the mechanical grip than the opening round. Also, we will use a much lower downforce setting in order to reduce drag for the long straight and have more chance to overtake. So the key is finding the balance with the right level of downforce, but you need to keep a good amount of downforce for the tires to stay in a good working range."
Graham Rahal (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda): "I'm thrilled to run the PennGrade livery in Long Beach. The car is so cool looking, and for me it's just going to be a lot of fun to get out there and drive it. PennGrade has been a tremendous partner of our team since last year and I am very excited to see what happens with the brand going forward. I have high hopes for the race, but I always do. I think the team deserves a good result in Long Beach and we are working hard to be the best we can for this championship. It's always a very tough race so I expect a lot of action and entertainment, but hope we can just stay out of trouble and keep clean. My past (Long Beach) results have been up and down. We have been good there but also had some bad luck and self-induced issues. We will try our best this year to pick up a victory in Long Beach rather than a Rahal finishing second there, which has happened a lot."
Conor Daly (No. 18 Jonathan Byrd's Hospitality Honda): "I am really looking forward to this race weekend, much more so than Phoenix, just because I have a little bit of experience at Long Beach. I'm very excited for the race. I love the place. I love the track. I love the fact we were quick at the end of the race last year, so we have a good place to start and it's with the same team, so it will be really cool. I didn't work with (engineer) Mike (Cannon) last year, but we were all there as a team and it's such a great track and great weekend. I'm finally feeling like it's a race I'm more prepared for. Even though it will be the same as St. Pete and a tough battle, I feel more prepared than any other race we've had this year."
Luca Filippi (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda): "I'm very motivated heading into Long Beach because I really love the Long Beach Grand Prix. It's one of my favorite races of the season. It's a historical place and race for INDYCAR and for motorsports in general with Formula One racing there in the past. It's one of those races that all drivers, including myself, want to win. It's an event that gives me that extra motivation. We found a good balance for the car on the street circuit in St. Petersburg that we'll be able to adjust for Long Beach. I expect to be up to speed quickly and to have a solid weekend. My expectations are relatively high as I think we can have a solid and strong weekend. The track itself is one of the most technical street courses that I've ever seen. In fact, it's the track that probably took me the most time to learn and to understand its secrets. It is very, very difficult and challenging but very fun to drive. It has a little bit of everything with slow and fast corners, places where you can overtake with wide and narrow areas. I think it provides great Indy car racing. I'd say my favorite part is the last section, it's a famous section where there's been amazing passing in the past and it's also the part that when you see it on videos or pictures, you know it's Long Beach. It's very special."
Josef Newgarden (No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): "I can't wait to get to Long Beach. It's one of the most exciting events of the year. As a street course, it's very thrilling and it has an amazing atmosphere. It's definitely one of the tracks I feel like we've always been fast at, just not quite able to seal the deal from a results standpoint. The last couple of years we've been close, fighting within the top five but not able to get to the podium. Hopefully we can turn that around this year with the Fuzzy's car and get on to the podium or even to victory lane."
Simon Pagenaud (No. 22 PPG Automotive Refinish Chevrolet): "We've had a great start to the season. After back-to-back second-place finishes, it's an honor to be leading the points in the Verizon IndyCar Series for Team Penske. But, it's obviously very early in the season and we are still very hungry for our first win. After coming close before in Long Beach, it would be really cool to get our first victory of the year here. Long Beach is always a tough race and it's very important to qualify well so you can race up front. We are excited to have the No. 22 Team Penske car racing in the PPG colors this weekend. We had some really strong finishes last season in the PPG Chevy, including a couple of podium results, so we'll try to keep the streak going at Long Beach."
Carlos Munoz (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda): "We are looking for a good result after a hard weekend Phoenix. I love Long Beach – it was my first win in Indy Lights and my first podium in (the Verizon) IndyCar (Series). I'm really looking forward to it. I love the track; it's one of my favorites and I can't wait to be back."
Marco Andretti (No. 27 United Fiber & Data/Snapple Honda): "Long Beach is my favorite street circuit and has a lot of family history for us. It's a great setting for a race and the fans are so supportive. The Indy 500 is obviously top on my desired win list, but Long Beach is in a close second. I can't wait to get back this weekend and hope to put the UFD/Snapple car up front."
Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 28 DHL Honda): "Long Beach is one of my favorite tracks, and cities, to visit. I'll be pulling double duty this weekend racing both my DHL Honda for INDYCAR and the No. 90 prototype for the IMSA race, so it will be a busy weekend. But I love the track, I've won there before and am hoping to see that iconic podium twice this weekend."
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Jack Hawksworth (No. 41 ABC Supply Co. AJ Foyt Racing Honda): "I love this event, it is probably my favorite alongside Toronto. The track is technical and has a fantastic flow to it, putting the car on the edge here really is a lot of fun. On top of this, the weather is usually great and California is a fantastic location for such an historic race. We were very strong at St. Petersburg but shot ourselves in the foot a little bit during qualifying. I expect that our St Petersburg form will carry over to Long Beach, in fact, I believe we should be stronger than we were in St. Pete. It will just be a case of executing when it matters this weekend."
Charlie Kimball (No, 83 Tresiba Chevrolet): "After a weekend off, I can't wait to get back into the No. 83 Tresiba Chevrolet at Long Beach. It really doesn't show in the championship standings yet, but I think we're steadily on pace for a strong showing this season. The Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team gave me a great, fast car at both St. Pete and Phoenix; we just weren't able to get the results. We'll have a good pit location thanks to our qualifying run in Phoenix, and I have no doubt the No. 83 car will be quick again. I'm looking forward to giving my hometown crowd a reason to cheer this weekend."
Alexander Rossi (No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda): "Long Beach is one of those races that you always hear about as an unbelievable venue and event, so I am very excited to be a part of it this year. This will be the first time in my professional career that I have raced at home in California and I will certainly be looking to put on a strong show for the local crowd."