The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is second only to the Indianapolis 500 in longevity on the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule. Of course, the series will make only its second visit to the scenic SoCal circuit this weekend. The previous 34 events (2008 was Indy Racing League sanctioned but Champ Car staged its farewell event before unification) were a mix. The temporary street course originally ran as a Formula 5000 race in 1975, moved to Formula One from 1976-83, then became a CART/Champ Car event from 1984-2008.
The circuit has been through nine iterations, ranging from 1.574 miles to 2.129, but all have included the hairpin turn. Today, the 1.97-mile, 11-turn circuit winds its way around and under hotels, a convention and entertainment complex, an aquarium and the new Pike at Rainbow Harbor complex. The 2000 race saw the circuit reconfigured to its present format.
Of note: Mario Andretti won in his first Champ Car start at Long Beach in 1984, and his son, Michael, in his last start there in 2002. Michael will be inducted into the Walk of Fame on April 16. The pole sitter has fared well at Long Beach, winning 12 of the previous 35 races.