By Luis Gomez and Gilbert Bernal
LONG BEACH, Calif. – Sounds of buzzing cars can be heard in the distance. A smell of fuel fills the air. The scene becomes tense as 24 carbon fiber race cars line up to start. The Toyota pace car screeches out of the way. The green flag drops as the deafening roar of pristine race cars scramble for the starting line. The 44th running of the Long Beach Grand Prix is underway.
Alexander Rossi leads the pack of fervent racers in what would result in a clinical performance. Rossi, previously a Formula One driver, has begun his season with a win in St. Petersburg, and now leads the driver’s championship after his dominant win at Long Beach.
Essentially the Monaco of the wild west, Verizon IndyCar drivers consider Long Beach to be one of the most important races to win on the race calendar. James Hinchcliffe won last year in Long Beach and said, “after Indy and, personally to me, Toronto, Long Beach is the biggest one to win. The greatest of the greats have won here. It’s nice to check this one off my bucket list!”
Rossi now is among an exclusive list of race winners at the historic street track which include legendary drivers Mario Andretti and Al Unser Jr.
Sébastien Bourdais performed an daring triple pass into turn 1 on lap 48 which was easily the best move of the race. Two cars were fighting for position ahead of Bourdais. Bourdais capitalizes on this fight to pass on the outside, which he completed and then passes another car turning into turn 1. Race control told Bourdais to give back the positions afterward because he entered the pit-exit to perform the pass.
The 44th Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix was a spectacle to behold, and drew massive crowds. Over the race weekend, event organizers reported attendance of around 183,000 spectators. Such a large crowd indicates that Americans still show major interest in open wheel motor racing. The future seems bright for IndyCar.