2015 LONG BEACH GRAND PRIX
2015 Long Beach Grand Prix
If you’re a lover of motor sports and follow Indy Cars, you know by now who won the 41st Grand Prix of Long Beach (GPLB). But just in case you haven’t heard, after eight prior attempts, New Zealand’s Scott Dixon took the checkered flag, Castroneves behind him and Montoya taking the third spot. The April temps—in the mid-70s—made for perfect racing weather.
The GPLB festivities started on a Thursday (the 16th) with the Walk of Fame and continued through Sunday. The weekend consisted of the Pro/Celebrity Race, the Tudor Series, the Indy Lights Series, the Speed Energy Formula Off-Road Series, the Super Drift Challenge, and the Pirelli World Challenge—all headlined by the Verizon Indy Car Series. It made for some nonstop racing action. There were also free concerts, which included Vince Neil of Motley Crue, and lifestyle expos at the convention center. Attendance was approximately 180,000. If you got bored at that event, you’re not a motor sports fan.
The first Grand Prix race in Long Beach was in 1975; it was a Formula 5000 race and was won by Brian Redman. My first race at Long Beach was in 1977; after a dog fight with Niki Lauda and Jody Scheckter, Mario Andretti took the checkered flag driving the John Player Special Lotus 78 Ford Cosworth. He was the first American to win an F1 race in a US Grand Prix. That race made the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, and the national broadcast news. Some have referred to Long Beach as the “Roar on the Shore.”Some of the names on the starting grid included Hunt, Scheckter, Lauda, Andretti, Fittipaladi, Rutemann, Villeneuve, and Watson.
That was Formula One racing in Long Beach then. This is 2015, and this is Verizon Indy Car. Some of the names on the on the starting grid now are Power, Montoya, Castroneves, Dixon, Kanaan, Hinchcliffe , Rahal, Pagenaud, and Andretti. That’s three generations of Andrettis that have raced the streets of Long Beach. Mario with four wins, son Michael with one, and grandson Marco still in the hunt for his first.
Long Beach is one of my favorite races to cover. Many fans—including me— call it “America’s Monaco.” The city has transformed dramatically from those early years, from one with a decaying downtown area filled with strip clubs, adult film theaters, and empty buildings to one with fine hotels, fine restaurants, and filled office buildings. That’s Long Beach today. Many say that the transformation of the city started with the Grand Prix of Long Beach. I’d say that is so correct. So let the Roar on the Shore continue to roar. As always.
CFRN Writer , Staff Photographer , Ken Manfred