2012 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach: Part 1
Words by Matt Willis
I know this is probably long overdue, but the past few weeks have been a bit crazy for us. In addition to work and school, I was trying to get my car ready to run at Speed Ventures in Fontana. I had a few run-ins with Murphy’s Law; having to replace a leaking heater core and a damaged brake caliper all within a couple of days. But, I’m happy to report that the car made it out and held up very well, so the effort didn’t go to waste. With that in the books, we have another event going on this coming weekend that we’re trying to prep for as well, so there isn’t going to be much of a break between editing and such. But we’ll
Anyways…the Long Beach GP kicked off the 2012 American Le Mans season and is the third stop on the IZOD IndyCar schedule. Downtown Long Beach has hosted the Grand Prix for thirty-seven years, and has one of the most loyal fan bases around. Similar to San Diego’s Coronado Speed Festival, the Long Beach GP is considered as part of the city’s heritage and lifestyle. And that great thing, especially with all the silencing and closures at our local racetracks. Strong support for the racing – whether its international or grassroots – is an integral component of automotive culture. In America, anything but the popular sports often becomes out-of-sight, out-of-mind. Take golf for example. Most of us don’t care about it and have no interest in it. But, to those who play golf and follow the PGA (or whatever tour), it’s a big deal. There is a degree of science to golf; just as there is a degree of science to racing. But to someone who doesn’t care about racing, it’s just a car going around a track. But when you bring the sport close to home – to places like Long Beach, and like San Diego – the people feel more connected to it. In that sense, I hope they don’t relocate or shut down events like this.
We arrived at the Grand Prix on Friday afternoon, just as the rain was coming in. Despite the foul weather, there were still a number of spectators to watch the various events. The ALMS qualifying took place, but got cut short when the rain really began to pour.
Tim took some shots around the paddock prior to qualifying.
Making its Le Mans debut was the Lotus Evora; unfortunately, the Yokohama team had some trouble dialing it in on race day. I think its a great platform to work with, but I’m not sure if it has the guts to run with some of the bigger cars.
Here are a few cars from the Firestone and Pirelli challenge groups.
Then, it started to get dark. Really dark.
We stayed out as long as we could before we (and our gear) started to get drenched.
The cool thing about Long Beach is that food is not far away. If you want to eat indoors, there are plenty of places along the boardwalk on the west side of the track. Great to have if you want to get out of the elements without having to leave the event itself. We ended up at the ever-reliable Chili’s…
By the time we were finished eating, the weather had cleared up a bit.
Here’s a view of the track from the convention center.
That’s all for today. More to come soon.
Thanks for reading! – Matt