Words by Tim Wong
The annual Long Beach Gran Prix has been one of our anticipated events each year as it’s one of Southern California’s most unique events. For two weekends, the streets of Long Beach are closed off from some hardcore motorsports actions starting off with Formula Drift one weekend and then followed by the Long Beach Gran Prix. We usually don’t bother with Formula Drift for two reasons: one, they usually deny our media requests and second, most of the same drivers participate in the Motegi Super Drift Challenge at the Gran Prix anyways. Usually we spend the whole week and weekend up in Long Beach covering everything from the street promotional events to the race days, but we have other obligations to attend to so we were there for only part of the weekend. Nonetheless, we had a great time grabbing some epic shots of the races and the event as a whole.
To start things off, the lifestyle expo is the general show that takes place in the Long Beach Convention Center that runs along with one of the straightaways along the track. The exhibit displays some of the corporate sponsors of the event and several other vendors. The halls houses some show cars along with the paddock of the drift cars. The hall used to also house the paddock of the Pirelli Challenge race cars as well, but they have since been moved to the outdoor paddocks. This may be because the ALMS was not running this year and instead replaced with the Tudor Championship which ran similar vehicles.
As Toyo Tires is a big sponsor for the Liberty Walk cars, it was no surprise to see some Liberty Walk cars displayed at their booth.
I’m not sure if this is a new Liberty Walk Ferrari 458 Italia or just a updated version of the grey one usually seen. They look pretty much the same aside from the wheel and color change.
Mazda had one of their latest turbocharged SKYACTIV-D Prototypes. Mazda has a pair of these running in the Tudor Championship.
Over at the drift car paddock, most of the cars were around to look at and walk around.
Michael Essa’s BMW E46
Dean Kearney in the Oracle Dodge Viper
Fredric Aasbo in the Japan Auto Supra
Toshiki Yoshioka in the Retaks S13.5
Ryan Kado in the DNA Motoring S14
Charles Ng in the Speedhunters’ G37
Kyle Mohan in the Energy X RX7
Forrest Wang in the STR Racing S14
Check back for more coverage of the Long Beach Gran Prix.