Global Time Attack in the streets of Long Beach. To properly convey the experience of being trackside as some of my friends were competing, I need to back up for a minute.
Let’s go with football. It’s always more fun watching a game when your home team is playing. In fact, if they aren’t the ones playing, I generally have little interest in watching the game. Not a very profound statement, is it?
Unless you’re a student of a particular sport, have a fantasy roster with players from a wide range of teams, or you simply really, really love it, you probably aren’t watching every single game. The casual fan just doesn’t have the time or energy to take in all that information. But load that same casual fan up with a few beers with friends at their home stadium — or even on their living room couch — and you’re likely to see some real passion emerge when the game is on the line.
People who don’t even care for the sport will still go out to a bar for a couple games out of the season and lose their mind in the crowd a few friends and dozens of strangers. As humans, we have a lot of allegiances that don’t totally make sense. We’ll defy logic to argue that a certain call went our way, whether the evidence is in our favor or not. We’re human, and we like other humans. We like our city best, or our state. We want to be part of a tribe and we want our tribe to win.
To me, just seeing time attack in the Long Beach was a win-win situation, regardless of the actual results. I’ve followed a number of the cars and drivers over the years, and know a few of the competitors personally. And there they were, racing back to back with IMSA and IndyCar on closed public roads in my home state.
As awesome as the feeling was for me and others in my position attending the race, you can imagine along with me that it was exponentially more so for the drivers themselves.
My friend Amir of RS Future had a rough weekend race-wise, but he was still so enthusiastic about the experience afterwards. “It has been a dream to race there. I’ve attended the GP as a spectator for over a decade, so to be able to compete alongside IMSA and Indy was surreal.”
“Driving in an Acura at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach was also a cool experience. I’m a huge fan of the brand, so that definitely added to some of the magic.” Amir goes on, “Not to mention, it was wild doing a track walk with some of the greatest drivers in the country.”
Ravi Dolwani of CSF Radiators had a similar sentiment: “My dad went to Long Beach State — he always used to tell me stories of watching the races from his friend’s apartments overlooking the track. It sounded so cool.”
Ravi started going to the races here himself around a decade ago, watching Pirelli World Challenge and Formula Drift tear up the streets of Long Beach.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize how it must have felt for Ravi, Amir, and the rest of the teams who actually got to go out on such an iconic track themselves after watching along for so many years. Even shooting at the Long Beach Grand Prix was a special experience for me; something I would have thought was completely out of reach seven years ago when I picked up a camera for the first time.
The same is surely true of these teams and drivers when it came to dreaming of racing in Long Beach, and yet, there they were.The Field
What I love most about time attack is its accessibility. I’ve been shooting for a newer track day organizer in California called Corsa Club, and they’re in works to introduce a time attack-style session to their events around the state, wherein built Miatas with good drivers have their chance to harass Corvettes and their owners. Anyone can get a taste of this motorsport.
Incidentally, speaking of Corvettes, it was Feras Qartoumy in the Qar Optics Z06 who took the top spot at Global Time Attack in Long Beach with a 1.19.571. For some perspective, that’s about half a second quicker than the fastest lap in the GTD class during the IMSA race, which was set by a Lamborghini Huracán GT3.
I certainly haven’t been the sport’s biggest fan or supporter, but as a more casual fan I’ve always enjoyed the format of time attack competition. More than that, I like the competitors and their cars. There’s a relatively low barrier to entry, as every entry is production-based and the rulebook isn’t super restrictive. Since you can go absolutely wild with aero and horsepower there’s a huge variety of interesting and unique solutions that emerge across the field.
As I was rounding the circuit, I loved seeing the fans interact with the cars on the Global Time Attack roster from the other side of the fence. A dad hoisted his kid up to get a better look at Will Drees’s Honda Prelude as it ripped by. “That was your mom’s first car,” he shouted to his incredulous child.
All of the cars are cool in their own right, and none of them are insanely out of reach as a starting point, either. They’re all interesting to me and each one would deserve its own feature here. The same is not really true of IMSA or IndyCar, where the technology becomes not only monotonous but increasingly incremental and secretive. In the Global Time Attack paddock, everything was on display and entirely accessible to fans.
Speaking of displays, CSF Race had a proper setup at the event, where I noticed their nitrous-ready B58 manifold sitting on the table. Of course, that wasn’t the only interesting thing sitting around…
It was my first time up close with the CSF Evo for a few years, so I wanted to take in every last detail while it was apart in the paddock. I hadn’t seen it since it was rebuilt from essentially a show car into a half-mile car, after which it was eventually converted into time attack spec. A fire ensued in their first outing a couple years back, but Ravi and the CSF team didn’t give up. Now, they’re racing in the streets of Long Beach with Randy Pobst behind the wheel.
Ravi shares he was “really nervous because, even after changing our power steering setup to a complete EPAS system, we were — and still are — having issues which we’re trying to sort out. It worked pretty well during our two test days before the Grand Prix and it just decided to die when we went out for the first practice session on Friday. With no power steering and no run-off area — just walls — I was really nervous about a potential crash. But Randy is such a professional, and did his best to drive through it.”
Ravi told me that even though the results were expected with the steering issues they suffered, it was ultimately disappointing. Regardless, he expressed that overall the experience was a very special one that not many get to experience, and he hopes to come back next season with the car fully sorted.In The Moment
Racing always brings surprises, and the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
The taste of surprise and disappoint were not unique to the CSF Race crew over the Grand Prix weekend.
As I mentioned, my friend Amir and his K24-swapped NSX didn’t have the smoothest of outings in Long Beach. His connecting rod also had an outing, you could say, although usually you want those to stay within the confines of your engine block. Being local, Amir and the RS Future team did their best to see if they could complete work in the shop overnight on a spare engine, but no dice.
They brought the car back to display in the paddock, where I asked Amir about the experience overall. “Being my first street circuit, I was a little nervous, but quickly forgot about the walls and really enjoyed the layout. I wouldn’t say I was surprised but the surface was really bumpy in some areas [and] changes in the surface over the course were an interesting challenge. However, we setup our KW Competitions to be pretty compliant, and they did great on the difficult surface.”
Amir continued, “It was an unfortunate result, but our team has done a great job of turning every failure into a victory one way or another. We’ve learned from what happened and made changes to our program to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Hopefully we get a chance to go back for a shot at redemption.”
It also wasn’t a total loss for the RS Future team anyway, with eight out of the 20 competing cars running Amir’s RS Future aero over the weekend. Offering track support, full builds, aero packages, and more, you can find his shop in Southern California.
The Street Class victory ended up going to another friend of mine, Jackie Ding in his GR Supra. I’ve seen Jackie and this car come a long way, and he always seems hungry for more.
Steven Chan piloted his GT-R to first place in the Limited Class and, as I mentioned above, Feras Qartoumy’s Corvette was fastest overall in Unlimited.
This fourth story wraps up my coverage from Long Beach, but leaves me wanting more. More street circuits, more racing in California, and more time attack. Here’s to hoping that in one year from now I’m sitting on the curb on Shoreline Drive as my friends zip by in cars they built themselves, only for hundreds of millions of dollars to follow them shortly thereafter in the form of open-wheel racers.
How cool is that?