For the first time since 2019, the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach is back in full glory this weekend with a packed schedule of events.
The Long Beach Grand Prix started Friday and will go on until Sunday — a change from its usual April dates.
Last year, when the state went into lockdown as the novel coronavirus spread rapidly, the Grand Prix was forced to cancel the longstanding race weekend for the first time since 1975.
As the pandemic began to worsen last fall, organizers were faced with another difficult decision: Host a highly modified event in April 2021—the usual scheduled slot for the Long Beach race—or find an alternative path. They chose the latter.
That decision moved the 2021 race to late September, making Long Beach the host of the final IndyCar race of the season. That means the series championship will be decided for the first time ever in Long Beach.
Over the years, the Grand Prix has introduced new events to attract a larger and more diverse crowd, officials said.
Jim Michaelian, who has served as the Grand Prix’s chief executive officer for 22 years, said he’s seen the race evolve over the years, along with its partnerships.
“We missed everybody too,” Michaelian said. “This has been an extraordinarily long two and a half years, just way too long for us.”
Officials are expecting large crowds over the three-day race weekend which is a huge boost for Long Beach businesses. But the mega event comes with rules.
All attendees will be required to show proof of vaccination against the virus, or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the first day of racing.
Masks will also be required at the race, regardless of vaccination status. Masks must be worn unless attendees are actively eating or drinking.
Despite the odd scheduling for this year’s race, the Michaelian said the Grand Prix will be back again next spring.
“We’re back April 8th through the 10th, and our team is ready to get started the day this event ends,” he said. “We’re rolling for next April.”
Meanwhile, this weekend’s slate of events will bring back many crowd favorites, including Robby Gordon’s Super Trucks, drifting, IMSA, a music concert, the family fun zone, the lifestyle expo and the exotic car show.
Added to this year’s schedule is the fastest lap competition called the Global Time Attack, featuring twenty modified street cars trying to set the track record.
Grand Prix ticket information can be found at www.GPLB.com.