Historic Formula One returns to Long Beach

F1 cars will once again scream thought the streets of downtown Long Beach at next years 29th Annual Grand Prix of Long Beach. It's been 20 years since an F1 car has rattled the windows along Seaside Way; since 1984 Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) have been the featured attraction at the Grand Prix of Long Beach

Mario Andretti inside his 1978 World Championship car: the Lotus 79.
Photo by LBGPA.

On September 28, 1975 the first annual Long Beach Grand Prix was held, with some of the top drivers in the world, racing through the streets of the busy California port city. The inaugural Long Beach event was also the first auto race run through the streets of a U.S. city. The Grand Prix was designed to bring attention to the town and help it become more well known.

The Long Beach race was a dream driven to reality by CART President, Chris Pook, along with a host of others. Pook shared his idea with Dan Gurney, one of the most successful and popular American drivers ever to participate in formula racing. The drawing boards were then passed to Les Richter, former All-Pro for the Los Angeles Rams and now Vice President of International Speedway Corporation. The group worked for almost a year polishing up their idea culminating in one of the most popular motorsports event in the world.

Historic Grand Prix is responsible for making this event come together. It features many of the actual F1 cars that ran at Long Beach from 1976-83, including Mario Andretti's World Champion winning 1978 #5 John Player Lotus, Gilles Villeneuve's 1980 #2 Ferrari, KeKe Rosberg's 1983 #1 Williams, Niki Lauda's 1977 #11 Ferrari and Tom Pryce's 1976 Shadow.

"The HGP show is designed to present fast, colorful and spirited racing at very special venues in North America," said James King, Historic Grand Prix Director. "Our race at Long Beach will be a long awaiting reunion with one of the true home circuits of the United States Grand Prix and promises to be a unique for our drivers and the fans."

Historic cars demonstration.
Photo by LBGPA.

In 2003 Historic Grand Prix will be entering its third year of competition and now has more than 65 owner-drivers of authentic F1 cars that ran from 1966 to 1983. Historic Grand Prix has raced at many famous tracks, including Laguna Seca, Road America, Watkins Glen and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Every historic F1 car will be on display for Grand Prix patrons in the Automobile Club of Southern California Lifestyle Expo located inside the Long Beach Convention Center. Each car will have its own storyboard containing information about the car, including original driver, races won and photos of the car in action on the streets of Long Beach.

The tentative schedule for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach has the Historic Grand Prix cars practicing on-track Friday, April 11; qualifying on Saturday, April 12, and the race will be held Sunday morning, April 13, after a brief warm-up session.