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This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Long Beach Grand Prix

April 21, 2015

Long Beach Grand Prix

 photo 241_zpseszymics.jpg Kirsten & James

 photo 247_zpsaufqp6e5.jpg Charlie Kimball

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 photo 071_zpsnje4sspz.jpg Michael & Courtney Force

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Of all the races on the Indy Car schedule, there is only one that I had not been to that I really, really wanted to attend and that was the Long Beach Grand Prix. This year marks the 41st running of the annual street race through the streets of downtown Long Beach and because of its history, popularity and excitement, I have always wanted to see it live.

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Courtney Force

 photo 192_zpsyjgsfr6d.jpg Ed Carpenter

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 photo 215_zpsknhisfss.jpg Bobby Rahal

This year it just so happened to be scheduled on the Sunday I was already in California for Coachella, and it was only a mere two hour drive, so I decided to take advantage of the fact that I have an Indy Car Hard Card pass and drive up to see the race. It was so cool to be able to drive up and back in the same day and attend my first Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

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 photo 078_zps1gjtzreh.jpg Graham Rahal

The Grand Prix has an illustrious history beginning as a Formula One race back in 1975 and running as a F1 race until CART/Indy Car and then Champ Car took over until 2008 when the Indy Racing League started sanctioning the races. The list of winners is like a who’s who of great drivers that includes, Clay Regazzoni, Mario Andretti, Gilles Villeneuve, Nelson Piquet, Nikki Lauda, Michael Andretti, Al Unser Jr., Paul Tracy, Alex Zanardi, Sebastian Bourdais, Dario Franchitti and Will Power.

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 photo 195_zpslt0jekkh.jpg Vince Neil

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Not only does the race have an amazing history, it is hugely popular with upwards of 200,000 people attending over the course of the weekend making it the largest sporting event in the city each year. It is much more than just the race, it is a huge event with a motorsports expo, a classic car show, rides and games and all manner of food and drink vendors as well as a plethora of support races including the wildly popular Toyota Celebrity race which features celebrities in identically prepared cars racing.

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Even though I did not have a ticket, my hard card got me in free and I was able to stay in the pits throughout the race, which was pretty cool. I watched the warm up final practice, the stadium truck race and the Indy Car race from the comfort of the pits and enjoyed walking around through the expo, classic car show and Indy Car Paddock. I got to meet the beautiful and talented Courtney Force, drag-racing star and daughter of the legendary John Force as well as Motley Crue lead singer Vince Neil who were each hanging around the pits.

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 photo 070_zpspktjrgyd.jpg Kate

The race itself was excellent, Scott Dixon, who had been off to his worst start in Indy Car ever after two races, started third and passed Juan Pablo Montoya for second on lap two. On lap twenty during pit stops, Dixon passed leader and pole sitter Helio Castroneves to grab the lead when Helio was held up just briefly in the pits. From there it was clear sailing as Dixon cruised to his first ever win at Long Beach.

 photo 061_zpsx0ah0xrn.jpg Robin Miller & Derek Daly

 photo 094_zpsgzp1hdl7.jpg Brody Jenner

 photo 086_zpsyzmopv9q.jpg Luca Fillippi

Castroneves and Montoya finished second and third, followed by Simon Pagenaud and Tony Kanaan. It was a very clean race, with only one brief caution period and pretty exciting as well. Dixon was obviously thrilled to have won. I was thrilled to have been there and can now cross Long Beach off my list of races to see.

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 photo 024_zpswavivttz.jpg Bob

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 photo 043_zpsthia7lvj.jpg Rick Mears

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