Long Beach ALMS Wrap Up

The second race of the final American Le Mans Series season was held on April 19 through the streets of Long Beach, California and was won overall, unsurprisingly, by the Muscle Milk Honda of Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr.

The historic Long Beach street circuit has long been a favorite of both drivers and fans, and this year’s final ALMS race was no exception. There was a lot of talk in the paddock about the new United Sports Car Series, which will combine the Grand Am with the ALMS beginning next season. Daytona Prototype and P2 will be the top class as the LMP1 category has been eliminated starting next season in this new domestic sports car series, so this year’s race at Long Beach was the last opportunity to see the LMP1 class tearing through the streets. It seems that everyone is taking a “wait and see” attitude toward the new unified series, and things should come into clearer focus as this season continues and final class structures and rules are announced for the new series.

Chris Dyson for one is optimistic about the new United Sports Car Series, as his Dyson Racing organization is looking forward to running a P2 prototype in the new series next season.

However, back to the present, where the Muscle Milk team dominated the race through the streets with a combination of quality driving and canny pit strategy to pull off the overall victory. Experience showed, as Greg Pickett’s team took advantage of yellow caution periods to easily win the race, besting the Rebellion Racing Lola by 36.329 seconds.

Rebellion Racing was making its first trip to Long Beach and had a quick weekend, earning pole position for the race. It was Nick Heidfeld’s first trip to the street circuit in southern California and his co-driver Neel Jani had not been here for several seasons, having last raced in an Indy Car. Nevertheless, they were both quick from the start and were only derailed during the race due to yellow caution periods and perhaps a better pit strategy by Greg Pickett’s Muscle Milk team. Heidfeld told me he really liked the circuit and thought that the entire event had a fantastic atmosphere. Unlike European racing, he said the fans are much more close to the action and have more opportunities to mix with the drivers and crews. He is looking forward to racing more in the US both this year and into the future.

The future is what it is all about at this point, as the final American Le Mans Series season crisscrosses the country on it’s way to the history books. Klaus Graf, Lucas Luhr and Greg Pickett’s Muscle Milk Racing Team put their names firmly into that history book at Long Beach, with this being the team’s third win in a row at the historic street circuit.

What will Long Beach look like next season? We will have to wait and see.

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