CHAMPCAR/CART: Long Beach ramping up for action in April

How To Build A City In Nine Weeks 28th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Ramping Up for Action, April 12-14 LONG BEACH, Calif. (Feb. 26, 2002) -- The numbers are impressive: 14 million. Three miles. 16,000. 300,000. But one number is even...

How To Build A City In Nine Weeks
28th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Ramping Up for Action, April 12-14

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Feb. 26, 2002) -- The numbers are impressive: 14 million. Three miles. 16,000. 300,000.

But one number is even more staggering: Nine ... as in weeks.

That's how long it takes the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach (GPALB) to put up, and take down, a facility capable of hosting more than 300,000 people -- a virtual city-within-a-city complete with port-a-johns, trash containers, parking spaces and the like -- for the 28th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach April 12-14.

The nine-week marathon has already started, with more than 14 million tons of concrete blocks, fitted with debris fencing and cable, in place on the streets of Long Beach. More than three miles of fencing is starting to go up and the tire crash barriers -- 16,000 tires wired together to minimize car crash damage -- are being rolled into place.

The second building phase, running right up to race weekend, involves numbers no less impressive:
21 huge spectator grandstands to seat more than 63,000 people, seven pedestrian bridges, 12 television/photo towers, 11 giant vision boards for full-circuit TV coverage for those in the grandstands, more than 30 hospitality tents of various sizes and shapes and more than 60 VIP viewing suits.

All this on the most famous street circuit in American racing, a 1.97-mile, 11-turn ribbon of pavement that winds around the Long Beach Convention Center, along Shoreline Drive past the Aquarium of the Pacific and under the windows of the Hyatt Hotel. The circuit remains unchanged for the third consecutive year. This year's edition of the race will feature the cars and stars of the CART FedEx Championship Series, Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, Toyota Atlantic Championship Series and the slam-bang muscle cars of the famous Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup.

"To say it's a challenge is an understatement," said Dwight Tanaka, director of operations for the GPALB. "Our staff of 40 people put in somewhere around 30,000 working hours to get all the creature comforts in place and have the circuit ready for some 200-mph racing.

"Then, the minute it's over, we start taking it down, inspecting the equipment, making repairs and storing it for next year."

Tanaka has been doing just that for 23 years during which, because of various construction projects, the circuit has changed many times since the days of F/5000 and F/One racing. But, said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the GPALB, "we've managed through all those changes to keep the circuit safe and competitive for the drivers as well as exciting for the spectators."

The GPALB has had lots of help.

"We have received input from many of the Long Beach city departments," Michaelian said, "and we owe each of them a debt of gratitude. This is the eighth different circuit configuration we've run, and without them, we would not have been able to make the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach the best street race in America."

For more information on the 28th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, including race updates, ticket information and hospitality options, visit the official race Web site at www.longbeachgp.com.

Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach:

Construction By The Numbers
3 miles of fencing
7 Spectator Bridges, 40' to 120' long
10 miles of fence cabling
11 Giant Vision boards
20 miles of telephone cable
21 grandstands with over 63,000 seats
25 miles of electrical power distribution cable
95 corporate hospitality units
280 tire crash barriers with 64 tires per pallet for a total of 17,920 tires
29,000 working hours
14,580,000 tons of concrete blocks, each of them 12' long and weighing 10,250 pounds

-TGPLB-

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About this article
Series Atlantic , IndyCar , Trans-Am
Drivers Jim Michaelian