Track Talk: INDYCAR's party at The Beach

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THE 46TH ACURA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH

Event dates: April 17-19, 2020.

The circuit: It’s a 1.97-mile, 11-turn twist through the city along the Pacific Ocean. With concrete barriers lining the street course, driving precision is a must and trouble looms at each corner.

Tickets: On sale now, accessed through this link. One of the best grandstands is No. 24; it’s located at the tight hairpin that is the signature of this circuit. A paddock pass offers an up-close look at the NTT INDYCAR Series drivers, crews and cars.

Long Beach 2019Kings in SoCal: Mario Andretti, who had won Formula One’s 1977 race on Long Beach’s streets, won three of the first four Indy car races (1984-87), and the one he didn’t win went to his son, Michael. Then, it was Al Unser Jr.’s turn to dominate. He won four races in succession, the record for a driver at a single Indy car event, and he then won two more a few years later to give him six victories in eight years. That’s how Unser earned the nickname “King of the Beach.”

Wins in succession: Andretti and Unser aren’t the only drivers to have won this race in consecutive years. Alex Zanardi won a pair in a row (1997-98) as did Paul Tracy (2003-04). Sebastien Bourdais won three in a row (2005-07) and Alexander Rossi has a chance to tally the three-peat feat with this year’s trip. The Andretti Autosport driver held back Team Penske's Will Power by 1.2 seconds in 2018 and destroyed the field last year with a 20.2-second margin of victory. Watch the highlight package.

Plenty to consume: The event features a host of on-track activities, with the Road to Indy program (Indy Lights, Indy Pro 2000 and USF2000) joining sports cars, vintage cars and Robby Gordon’s high-flying Stadium Super Trucks. And there’s much to see, eat and drink of the track, everything from live music to walking tacos to adult beverages in various sizes and colors. To call it a sunshine street party is an understatement, and the event brochure here promises “lower beer prices throughout the venue (and) healthier food options.”

More to see: The Lifestyle Expo is an added bonus. There are more than 150 displays spread over 270,000 square feet of convention center space, featuring the latest in automotive, home, recreation, travel and entertainment products and services. In addition, the INDYCAR Series Fan Experience is located there, as are the Family Fun Zone, support series paddocks and several driver autograph sessions. Plus, there are concerts Friday and Saturday nights in front of the Long Beach Performing Arts Center, and the exotic car paddock is a must-see. If Long Beach isn't on your bucket list, it should be.

PAST WINNERS:

1984 (CART): Mario Andretti

1985 (CART): Mario Andretti

1986 (CART): Michael Andretti

1987 (CART): Mario Andretti

1988 (CART): Al Unser Jr.

1989 (CART): Al Unser Jr.

1990 (CART): Al Unser Jr.

1991 (CART): Al Unser Jr.

1992 (CART): Danny Sullivan

1993 (CART): Paul Tracy

1994 (CART): Al Unser Jr.

1995 (CART): Al Unser Jr.

1996 (CART): Jimmy Vasser

1997 (CART): Alex Zanardi

1998 (CART): Alex Zanardi

1999 (CART): Juan Pablo Montoya

2000 (CART): Paul Tracy

2001 (CART): Helio Castroneves

2002 (CART): Michael Andretti

2003 (CART): Paul Tracy

2004 (Champ Car): Paul Tracy

2005 (Champ Car): Sebastien Bourdais

2006 (Champ Car): Sebastien Bourdais

2007 (Champ Car): Sebastien Bourdais

2008 (IRL): Will Power

2009 (IRL): Dario Franchitti

2010 (IRL): Ryan Hunter-Reay

2011 (INDYCAR): Mike Conway

2012 (INDYCAR): Will Power

2013 (INDYCAR): Takuma Sato

2014 (INDYCAR): Mike Conway

2015 (INDYCAR): Scott Dixon

2016 (INDYCAR): Simon Pagenaud

2017 (INDYCAR): James Hinchcliffe

2018 (INDYCAR): Alexander Rossi

2019 (INDYCAR): Alexander Rossi

Long Beach 2013

From the fans