40th Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach Preview

Takuma Sato leads Graham Rahal at Long Beach in 2013.  [Joe Jennings Photo]

The downtown streets of Long Beach, CA will come alive on Sunday, April 13, as the Verizon IndyCar Series presents the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach; the longest-running major street race in North America.

Open wheel racing has been held in this southern California seashore town  since 1975 when a Formula 5000 event was held, followed by Formula One events from 1976-1983.

Indy-type cars moved in beginning in 1984, first under CART/Champ Car sanction (1984-2008), and then IRL/IndyCar (2009-Present).

Twenty-two of the Long Beach Indy car events have been won by just seven drivers: Al Unser Jr. (6), Paul Tracy (4), Sebastien Bourdais (3), the Andretti clan- Mario (3) and Michael (2), Alex Zanardi (2) and Will Power (2).

Power, whose wins here have come in the past two seasons, also has a three-race series’ winning streak dating to 2013. The Penske driver comes to Long Beach having led the most laps in the 2014 opener at St. Petersburg.

Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya returned to Indy car racing this season after spending 13 seasons competing in F1 and NASCAR events.

Montoya, who struggled in his first race back at St. Petersburg, hopes that things will improve at Long Beach as he becomes more familiar with his Penske crew.

“It was a decent start to my second time in the IndyCar series. We have to get a little better on the set-ups, and that will come as we work more together,” noted the former CART champion and Indianapolis 500 winner. “It’s hard to start that far back (18th) in the field. We were just a little too aggressive and we burned the rear tires off.”

The Grand Prix will also feature the first standing start of the season; something Graham Rahal looks forward to.

“I think it will work well here,” the second-generation driver and son of Bobby noted. “This is the first time (doing a standing start) for a lot of us (here), and we haven’t had a lot of practice with this car and the new engine specs. It’s the same for everybody. I’m sure it will be a good show.”

The Long Beach circuit, which has been changed nine times during its 40-year history, is a 1.96-mile, twelve-turn street course which will play host to almost 200,000 fans over the three-day weekend of racing.

In 2013 Takuma Sato won here, giving car-owner A.J. Foyt his first win since Airton Dare’ visited victory lane at Kansas in 2002.

The 2014 Long Beach event will be the second race on the Verizon Indy Car schedule, having traded dates with the Honda Indy Grand Prix at Barber Motorsports Park which will follow in two weeks.

The entry list for Long Beach shows 23 cars, one more than at St. Petersburg. The addition is Spaniard Oriol Servia, entered by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing as a team car to Graham Rahal. Servia is expected to compete in the next four races including Long Beach, Barber, Indy Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500.


  • Former Long Beach winner Paul Tracy will join NBC Sports this weekend as a race analyst. The Canadian, who now resides in the Phoenix area, will work 6 of 13 events which the network will televise in 2014.
  • Chevrolet-powered cars finished 1st, 3rd and 4th in St. Petersburg, while Honda teams ran 2nd, 5th and 7th.
  • The Toyota pro/celebrity charity race, held during the race weekend, has raised over $2 million for local children’s hospitals.
  • The Long Beach City Council will vote soon on extending its contract with Indy Car promoters, the Grand Prix Association, through 2018. They will then likely seek a Request For Proposal (RFP) after 2018 to determine whether IndyCar or Formula One events will be held there beginning in 2019.
  • Verizon IndyCar Series’ 2013 champion Scott Dixon finished fourth at St. Petersburg, and is 21-points behind leader Will Power. Ryan Hunter-Reay (-13) is second and Helio Castroneves (-17) is third.
  •  The race will be televised on the NBC Sports Network at 4:00 PM (ET).









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