Long Beach GP: A festival of events

The 38th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach roars into town this week, and race officials are ready to satisfy the need for speed for the annual influx of 175,000 fans.

"There's a large menu of activities to please everybody, whether you're a hardcore race fan or not," said Grand Prix spokesman Chris Esslinger. "It's a three-day festival of entertainment."

Hard-core fans have their pick of six different races, including the 36th Annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race and the big race on Sunday.

Off the track, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and Mexican-pop group Belanova headline outdoor concerts, while younger race fans can watch BMX demonstrations or practice their need for pseudo speed on race simulators.

The Shoreline also is ready for the influx.

The 1.968-mile temporary road course winds its way around the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center and The Pike at Rainbow Harbor. Concrete barriers are in place and grandstands sit along south Pine Avenue, Seaside Way, Shoreline Drive and Aquarium Way.

Outside of the races, a couple of free parties and a charity race are scheduled leading up to the weekend event.

Start your engines

The week's festivities will kick off Wednesday with, fittingly, a race and a car show.

The Go-Kart Charity Race is from 2-9 p.m. at Alamitos Bay Landing, 109 N. Marina Drive. The event will feature Grand Graham Rahal and Ed Carpenter, and pit crews trying to set fast lap times for charity.

Spectators attending will be able to test their driving skills in the go-karts. The event will also have live music and driver autograph sessions.

Proceeds will benefit the Graham Rahal Foundation, Alex's Lemonade Stand and the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps.

Also Wednesday, a new party enters the race on Second Street. Roar in Belmont Shore will take place from 6-8:30 p.m. between Corona and Covina avenues. The festivities will include a car show, live music and driver autograph sessions.

Thunder Thursday

The Tecate Thunder Thursday will take over the streets on Pine Avenue from 6:30-10:30 p.m.

This street party between First and Third streets will feature freestyle motocross performances, motorcycle stunts, a pit-stop competition, live music, driver autograph sessions and a beauty pageant to select Tecate Miss Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Mexican pop group Belanova headlines the Tecate Light Fiesta Friday Concert, taking place at 6:30 p.m. in front of the Terrace Theater at the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd. Only Grand Prix ticket holders can attend the concert.

The 12-year-old synth-pop trio (vocalist Denisse Guerrero, keyboardist Edgar Huerta and bass guitarist Ricardo "Richie" Arreola) was formed in Guadalajara, Mexico. In the past six years, the band has received numerous nominations from several Spanish music award ceremonies, including the Los Premios MTV Latinoamérica, the Latin Grammy Awards and the Billboard Latin Music Awards.

Weekend expo

Inside the Long Beach Convention Center, race spectators will find the Lifestyle Expo from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

The expo features a Family Fun Zone with BMX and skateboarding demonstrations, electric-powered race cars for kids, video games, simulators and radio-controlled vehicles.

The expo also showcases a Green Power Prix-View, highlighting alternative energy vehicles, renewable energy sources, water and energy conservation, green building and healthy lifestyles for inside and outside the home. Only Grand Prix ticket holders have access to the expo.

On Saturday night, after the races and the expo close, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts make some noise at the Tecate Light Rock-N-Roar concert, the same stage as Tecate Light Fiesta Friday event. The concert will kick off at 6:45 p.m.

Jett's musical pedigree includes three platinum or gold albums and nine Top-40 singles, such as "Bad Reputation," "I Love Rock 'N' Roll," "I Hate Myself for Loving You," "Do You Want to Touch" and "Crimson and Clover."

Jett still runs Blackheart Records, home to such up-and-coming groups as Girl in a Coma and the L.A.-based Dollyrots. Long Beach Press Telegram

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