Kyle Kirkwood takes the checkered flag. Photo by Doug Clifford

IndyCar: Long Beach GP attendance hits 192K

The 48th Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach is in the books and all indicators are pointing higher for the venerable street race.

According to Grand Prix Association of Long Beach President & CEO Jim Michaelian, the race hosted more than 192,000 attendees, a record for the modern era (since the 2008 INDYCAR – Champ Car series merger), with all grandstand reserved seating having sold out. And preliminary concession and merchandise sales numbers reflect a substantial increase in sales as well.

“The 2023 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach was a resounding success!” said Michaelian. “We were blessed with three days of perfect weather, great racing and a wide variety of activities for our fans. There was a sense of real enjoyment from the diverse crowd that gathered to enjoy all that the Grand Prix – and the City of Long Beach – had to offer.”

The race weekend included six world-class racing events, including the featured NTT INDYCAR SERIES race which was won by Kyle Kirkwood, earning his first series win.

“The diversity of entertainment that’s there matches the diversity of the audience that’s attending — it’s become almost traditional in terms of where people go and what they see and do,” Michaelian said. “I felt like that was really an added dimension to our event that I think is partly responsible for this substantial increase in our attendance.”

Even as the racing circuit is being dismantled, plans are underway to enhance the fan experience at the 49th Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, scheduled to take place April 19-21, 2024.

“Even as the racing circuit is being removed, we’re already planning a series of meetings now planning on what we’re going to do to even enhance the experience here in 2024,” Michaelian said. “We’re delighted with the way things turned out this year — and we’re anxious to make sure that next year is even better.”

“All the arrows are pointing in the right direction,” he said, “so that’s a very good sign.”

Those benefits for Long Beach’s tourism and hospitality industries are showing through with more strength than ever before, said Steve Goodling, president and CEO of the city’s Convention & Visitors Bureau, in a Monday interview with the Whittier Daily News.

“(The Grand Prix) creates what I call a trial of the city,” Goodling said. “We’re fortunate to have it here because it permits us to annually showcase development in downtown Long Beach — you get to show the public what you can do.”

This year, local hotels were completely booked ahead of Grand Prix weekend, Goodling said.

“It sought us out all the way up to the airport — you could not find a hotel room in the city of Long Beach this weekend,” Goodling said. “And and then of course, we have over 120 restaurants in eight block radius right around the convention center.”

But aside from the immediate economic boost offered to local business, the Grand Prix also helps attract other event organizers to Long Beach in general.

“They get to experience, in short form, what it was like for their attendees in our city,” he said. “It is the premier showcase for the city.”

“With visitors from all around the world, the Grand Prix showcased the best of Long Beach,” Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Jeremey Harris said in a Monday statement, “through its first rate tourism and hospitality programs that was a boon for the city’s hotels, businesses, restaurants and bars.”

“I am proud to say that the 2023 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach was a tremendous success, with record attendance levels and a significant economic impact on our community,” Mayor Rex Richardson said in a Monday statement. “I want to thank everyone involved in making this event a success, boosting tourism and local businesses in Long Beach. We look forward to next year’s Grand Prix.”


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