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Official Review by Chris Green, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Grand Prix of Long Beach is America’s longest running street race, and it is easy to see why. The location in Southern California is perfect for a spring race, and the excitement on the track is also top notch. The area itself is a mecca for people all around the world to visit, so adding a world-famous car race to the mix only makes Long Beach even more attractive.
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The average fan may experience a bit of an overwhelming overload when looking for something to eat or drink in Long Beach. The track has an insurmountable amount of food vendors on site, ranging from chains like King Taco and California Pizza Kitchen, to individual booths with kettle corn, massive turkey legs, and fries. However, to make the choices even greater is the inclusion of part of The Pike Outlets into the course's boundaries, making several of the restaurants exclusive to race fans for the weekend. Hooters, Bubba Gump Shrimp, Famous Dave's, Chili's, Outback, and more can all be found inside the track itself, and each of them has a special menu just for that race weekend. Where else can you sit quite literally trackside while munching on fresh seafood and a cold beer from Bubba Gump all at a special price for fans that weekend? Prices are average, which makes them rather reasonable for fans, as they aren't breaking the bank to find something to eat. Even the higher-end booths like California Pizza Kitchen's gourmet pizzas are no more than $12 each.
The air at the Grand Prix of Long Beach warms the race fan's soul once the sound of engines echo through the downtown high-rises. The weather in Southern California is rarely anything but perfect in mid-spring, with temps in the 80s and sunny skies almost a certainty. The weekend features no less than four different race series every year, ranging from the Toyota Pro Celebrity Race (2016 was the final year of the race) and the Stadium Super Trucks all the way to Pirelli World Challenge, IMSA, and IndyCar action.
The track winds through downtown Long Beach right along the shoreline. Just steps away from the famous hairpin turn is the beach itself. The marina and harbor are also nearby, home to the Queen Mary. Additionally, the city of Long Beach is essentially a neighbor to Los Angeles, giving fans easy access to one of the biggest and most popular cities in America. When looking for somewhere to stay, hotels are literally across the street from the track and within walking distance, including a hotel located inside the boundaries of the track. But book early, as the rooms fill up quickly, and the price rises as you get closer to the first date of the weekend.
The track is always packed on all three days of the race weekend. Fans flock from around the world to visit the Grand Prix of Long Beach, meaning you will meet a wide variety of fans from different cultures. Surprisingly, a lot of fans are very sport-knowledgeable, something that is not typical of city-based street courses that are more of a spectacle for fans than something loyalists pack in for. The majority are all about having a good party too, and the fans also show up for the free concerts they hold during race weekend in front of the convention center.
Getting to the Grand Prix of Long Beach area is not difficult, as several major highways in California provide great access to Long Beach. However, parking can be tricky, as it is a street circuit. Cost of parking can rise to over $50 across the street from the entrances, but can also be as low as $10 just a few blocks away. Arguably the most difficult thing, however, is getting around the track itself. Pathways and walkways are cordoned off in specific patterns that limit the flow of foot traffic around Long Beach. Fans aren't able to spread out as much as they can at other tracks, making the pedestrian bridges and the pathways rather congested.
Tickets to the Grand Prix of Long Beach can be somewhat pricey, ranging for $50 a day to over $140 for the full weekend and on Sunday. And being in California, the cost of travel, hotels and food is already increased, as it is. However, the race is always one of historic significance, and the results go down in the annals of sporting history forever, so getting to see one of the world's most legendary races is a pretty good deal, especially considering the location.
The Grand Prix of Long Beach has an interesting layout for the fan zones, as the entire convention center is turned into a massive exhibition hall that also includes the paddock for the Pirelli World Challenge teams. Freebies are abundant for fans who enter the hall, and there are several driver meet-and-greet opportunities, as well.
The race weekend also includes various driver autograph sessions, allowing fans to get up close to the stars and cars they cheer on during the day.
Another bonus is the proximity of the track to various national parks and natural areas. Channel Islands National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Los Padres National Forest, and Angeles National Forest (just to name a few) are all within a short driving distance from Long Beach and the LA area, making for a great day-trip idea for the family to get away from the city and have some adventure.
If you're a fan of social media, you definitely want to log on for the Grand Prix of Long Beach. Throughout the weekend, the event displays photos from Instagram and Twitter posts on the big screens for all to see.
Visiting the Grand Prix of Long Beach is a must-do for any hardcore race fan. Anyone also in Southern California should visit the race, as well, as it is the nicest racing facility, in terms of weather and location, in the area. Not much can top sunny skies by the Pacific Ocean as cars race down the streets of Long Beach, and that's exactly why the race has lasted so long.
Member Review by DrewCieszynski on Apr 20, 2012
The 38th edition of the Grand Prix of Long Beach took place on April 13-15, 2012.
The history of the race dates back to 1975, when Christopher Pook led the efforts to bring an annual race to Long Beach. It started as a Formula 5000 race and just a year later would become a Formula One race. In 1984, it would become a CART Indycar/Champ Car event until 2009, when it became part of the Izod IndyCar Series.
The event is now the most tenured major street race on all of the North American continent and the largest annual event held in the city of Long Beach.
The 1.968-mile circuit is a favorite of many racers, being situated on the Long Beach waterfront with palm trees lining the track. Drivers pass by many landmarks on the course, including the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center, the Pike, and the Queen Mary.
140 Pine Avenue
Long Beach, CA 90802
210 East 3rd Street
Long Beach, CA 90802
201 East Broadway
Long Beach, CA 90802
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