Overheard in Long Beach – Friday

Another beautiful day in Long Beach, California as the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend got underway Friday. This is the 43rd year of the race, 34th as an IndyCar race, and the race has never had rain on raceday. One year it rained on Saturday. They are calling for rain tonight but it should be out of here before qualifying.

Check out my video interview with the President of the Long Beach GP Jim Michaelian. He talks about what makes this race so successful, how important Toyota has been to the event, the loss of the Toyota Pro Celebrity race and other interesting perspectives on the greatest street race in North America.

One issue a lot of drivers are talking about is the severe bump under braking at the end of the back straight. It's exactly where the drivers start to brake and it causes the cars to bounce up in the air and lose traction. So the drivers have had to adjust their line, or brake earlier and not as hard so the car doesn't get off the ground.

There were a lot of spins on Friday as drivers were getting the track rubbered in, which is fairly typical for a Friday as drivers test the limits of their car. And of course, as we know from St. Petersburg, teams are still coming to terms with the new PFC brakes.

Word is that Cosworth Engineering, owned by former IndyCar team owner and Champ Car boss Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe, are building a plant in Michigan. Cosworth has been building their aftermarket automotive business, including the Cosworth PDR Data Recorder that is very popular. Rumor has it the next generation of the Corvette will go into production much sooner than expected. A January 2019 production date is rumored to usher in the C8 Corvette.

Of course, the speculation has run rampant over where the engine will be placed in a new Corvette, with sources, spy shots and more pointing to a mid-engine layout. Nothing is certain, but we could be upon a new Corvette much sooner than anticipated. Speculation is that Cosworth opening the plant in Michigan and they will be doing the mid-engine Corvette engine. The Corvette has always been a a pushrod big bore V8 design. If Cosworth is doing the new engine as rumored, we bet the engine will be overhead cam and probably turbocharged.

We spoke to AJ Foyt Friday (see video interview) and we talked about the era when the cars didn't have wings and the drivers used to dirt-track it on asphalt pavement. That went out the window when wings were added to the cars. AJ said "a lot of drivers died back then and I am all for the safer cars of today." We also talked about his health, and which shop the #14 car is serviced out of, and which shop the nos. 40 and 4 will be serviced out of. Check out the interview – AJ is looking well again.

We also interviewed Colton Herta and learned that when he went to race in Europe he never really planned to go to F1 despite some good success. Find out why he went to Europe and why he is now back racing in the USA.

Takuma Sato is on the verge of having his best year ever in the twilight of his career now that he is with Andretti Autosport. In our interview with him he sounds really confident. We also talked about his new wine, how the project got started, and that he plans to also sell the wine in Japan.

AR1.com readers know that we have called on IndyCar for years to end their season as a 400-miler on the Indy oval, and if it was under the lights, even better yet. We ran into the President of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Doug Boles, who is in town with his family and to also watch his stepson Conor Daly race (Conor's mother was married to Derek Daly but is now married to Doug Boles), so we interviewed him and among other things we discussed these ideas. Watch and hear what he has to say about how afraid they are of doing anything that might somehow be perceived as taking away from the sanctity of the Indy 500.

You know that Ed Jones is from Dubai but he is really of British heritage. His parents moved to Dubai for work before he was born. He told us everyone works in Dubai – everyone has a job and there is no crime.

We also caught up with Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi for some quick interviews. Both are fairly confident that Andretti Autosport made some real gains in the offseason. Mark C. reporting from Long Beach.

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