Grand Prix Time in Long Beach

Fast machines zoom around the city streets.

HUGE IN EVERY WAY: The numbers on the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which is happening in 2012 from April 13-15, tend to be as outsized as the springtime event itself. It's hard to know which outsized figure to land on first, but let's start with attendance. It's regularly estimated that over 200,000 people attend the three-day racing event, which lends itself immediately to a few other facts. Like? Like the fact that the Grand Prix isn't just about its six centerpiece races but all the other happenings that go down around and adjacent to it, like the charity ball and the mondo Lifestyle Expo and the all the concerts (Joan Jett & the Blackhearts will be rocking the scene this year). Because 200,000+ people? Need places to go and recreate when they're not in the stands.

LET'S TALK ABOUT THOSE STANDS: They're not lining some formula racetrack but, yep, the streets of downtown, ocean-close Long Beach. Because the Grand Prix is, in fact, a street race, and just about one of the most famous in the world (although the name is, of course, a major hint as to the setting). We like seeing high-performance machines top supernatural speeds while passing the same movie theaters and restaurants we've passed on our own pokey way to the aquarium. (We, of course, would never drive on a Sunday outing at those supernatural speeds, so it thrills us to see others do so.) Now we're off to ogle the Fastest Qualifiers list, which never ceases to fascinate us. Yep, several of the cars crossed 100 MPH. Just reading that nearly makes the hair fly back. (Also making our hair fly back? How fast tickets go.)

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