Long Beach Grand Prix Weekend: What to Watch - NBC 7 San Diego

Long Beach Grand Prix Weekend: What to Watch

A guide to the race action at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    Long Beach Grand Prix Weekend: What to Watch
    Jonathan Lloyd/KNBC-TV
    A Mercedes Benz GT racer enters pit lane during the 2017 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

    A broad range of motorsports events are on the schedule for Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend, April 13-15. It's a high-horsepower street party on a tightly packed street track that promises wheel-to-wheel competition.

    Drivers will carve their way through the 1.9-mile, 11-turn track where a mistake often means contact with the unforgiving walls lining the course and dramatic changes in position. Several different types of race cars will be on track before Sunday's main event.

    The event's history dates to the mid-1970s, when the powerful and lightweight open-wheel Formula 5000 cars stormed the track in the first Long Beach Grand Prix. Long Beach soon attracted the world's most prestigious series, Formula 1, and its internationally famed drivers and teams.

    The final F1 race in Long Beach was in 1983, but other forms of open-wheel racing continued to attract crowds to Shoreline Drive for years to come.

    A map of the 2018 Grand Prix of Long Beach street circuit. Click for a larger image.
    Photo credit: GPLB

    Here's what to watch at the 2018 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Click here for a full schedule of events during race weekend.

    Friday, April 13

    The event in downtown Long Beach opens to the public on Friday with several practice sessions and qualifying events, including the IMSA sports car races. Paddock areas will be open, offering fans an opportunity to view the cars up close before the weekend crowds arrive. 

    The SMG Presents Fiesta Friday will feature "Ozomatli" on-stage outside the track before Session 1 of the Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge. The streets will be filled with tire smoke as they navigate parts of the course in controlled power-slides.

    What to Watch: If you have Friday off, avoid the weekend crowds and take time to browse the paddock area, where mechanics and other race team members will get the cars ready for practice, qualifying and race sessions.

    Saturday, April 14

    Racing begins with a throwback to the 1960s and 70s with the historic Trans Am Race. Ford Mustangs, Chevy Camaros, AMC Javelins and other prime examples from an exciting era will bring raw power and a booming sounds to the streets.

    The feature race at 1:05 p.m. on Saturday is one of the world's premiere sports car series. The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar series features prototype and production-based racers competing in different classes on track at the same time. It also has some of the most skilled and competitive drivers around. 

    IndyCar qualifying begins at 3:30 p.m. and concludes with the Firestone Fast 6, a final round shootout involving the fastest six drivers to determine the starting grid for Sunday's race.

    Saturday wraps up with the first Speed Energy Stadium Super Trucks race of the weekend, The Cult, performing on the Plaza Stage in front of the convention center and Session 2 of the Super Drift Challenge.

    What to Watch: The IMSA WeatherTech series race is a 100-minute shootout. Watch the illuminated numbers on the sides of the cars to follow each class. Last year's race came down to a chaotic traffic jam in the perilous Turn 11 hairpin. 

    Sunday, April 15

    Alarm clocks won't be necessary near downtown Long Beach Sunday morning. There's an IndyCar series warm-up at 9 a.m. before the Pirelli World Challenge race at 10 a.m.

    The weekend's feature event, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Verizon IndyCar Series Race, begins at 1:40 p.m. Drivers will compete for valuable series points in an 85-lap race that requires speed, strategy and some good fortune to win. 

    Stick around for the final event, the wild Stadium Super Trucks race.

    What to Watch: There are great places to watch all over the track, but Shoreline Drive offers the spectacle of racing at its best -- before and during the race. From the main grand stands, you'll see the drivers and crews get ready for the race and react to the pressure of pit stops. Plus, there are plenty of big screens to see the action on other parts of the course.