After three full days at the track (followed by a much needed day of recuperation), it's time to start looking back at the action-packed weekend at the Long Beach Grand Prix. As I mentioned earlier, this was my first time shooting the LBGP and quite a memorable experience. If you've never had a chance to to go, I highly recommend planning a trip. Although we were there primarily for the ALMS race, the entire event is really a spectacle in itself.
Over the course of the weekend, the downtown Long Beach waterfront turns into a separate city – one full of race cars, race fans, and all the craziness that comes with a street circuit event. The Grand Prix itself offers a full schedule of events both on and off the track, and if you should get tired of the screaming engines and burning rubber, you can take a break in any of the trackside restaurants and bars that litter the area. It's really quite awesome.
The venue for Long Beach Grand Prix is large in contrast to the previous weekend's Formula D event, which occupied just a small portion of the course. The LBGP is just as much a festival as it is a race. In fact, I think a lot of the people there could care less about the action on the track as long as the beer is cold and the hot dogs are uhhh…big. Rod was constantly expressing his amazement of this "Americanism" and I myself was also had adjust after my time in Japan.
I may be a bit biased since I spent a lot of the weekend hanging around the Falken pit in the ALMS paddock, but the Falken-colored GT2 Porsche was without a doubt one of the coolest looking cars on the track. More on this in my upcoming Falken report from ALMS Long Beach.
The prototype cars were the most foreign to me, but it was love at first sight when the pair of Mazda-powered LMP2 Lolas from Dyson Racing took the track. A bit strange seeing Mazda prototypes powered by piston engines isn't it?
If you follow the American Le Mans series at all, then you know that Long Beach marked the final race for the GT1 class Corvettes after a historic run in the series. The #4 Compuware C6.R finished on a good note, giving Corvette Racing a victory in it's final GT1 race. The new GT2 'Vettes will debut in ALMS later this season.
The Robertson Racing Ford GT is quite simply a beautiful racecar. Here we see it during a quiet pre-race moment in the paddock.
The "Lifestyle Expo" inside the Long Beach convention center provided a nice retreat from the hot sun throughout the weekend. Each time I went in there, I'd find myself being attracted to these beautiful RC cars from Hpi Racing. More on these soon.
Although it falls way outside of the Speedhunters focus, I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed watching the celebrity race on Saturday. More than a few of these lightly tuned Scion tC's didn't survive the beating that the celebs were handing out.
I like to call this particular shot Trebek at Speed….
During the FD team drifting the cars were allowed to drift the entire course – but naturally the familiar turns 9 to 11 were where most of the action was. I'm not exaggerating at all when I say that the drifting is what got the most crowd reaction of the weekend.
Just as it's been a busy couple of weeks for us, it's been a busy couple of weeks for the Falken ladies. Here we see them during the pre-race happenings on the ALMS grid.
One of the Flying Lizards flying down the dragstrip between turns seven and eight.
The Risi Competzione Ferrari 430's do their fair share in adding to the high volume symphony that it is an ALMS race.
Or perhaps you like your noises a bit more blunt? In that case the Primetime Race Group Viper should suit you.
As Rod mentioned, the fountain area is an extremely popular spot among photographers at the LBGP. I guess with scenes like this it's not too hard to see why.
The unforgiving corners, the rough racing surface, the long shadows, the sound of race engines echoing off buildings – this is the magic of racing on a street course. It's a bit saddening to know that we'll have to wait another 50 weeks or so before the streets of Long Beach are again transformed into one of the world's most famous racing circuits.
More from the LBGP and the American LeMans Series coming soon.