Long Beach: Bill Auberlen preview

Bill Auberlen will add another BMW to his resume this weekend. The Redondo Beach, Calif., driver will compete in front of his hometown crowd in the April 8 Rolex Sports Car Series race on the 1.968-mile Grand Prix of Long Beach (Calif.) street ...

Bill Auberlen will add another BMW to his resume this weekend. The Redondo Beach, Calif., driver will compete in front of his hometown crowd in the April 8 Rolex Sports Car Series race on the 1.968-mile Grand Prix of Long Beach (Calif.) street circuit. He will drive the No. 3 Southard Motorsports BMW-powered Riley Mk XI with Shane Lewis of Jupiter, Fla.

Auberlen has only raced in Long Beach three times, but he made every race count, collecting two front-row starting positions and two podium finishes. He earned the starting positions in IMSA GTU competition in 1990 and 1991, and the podiums in IMSA GTU (1990) and the Toyota Atlantic Championship (1997).

Street circuits don't rank high on the favorites list for most drivers, but Auberlen enjoys the challenge of the concrete canyons, especially the Long Beach configuration.

"I love them!" he enthused. "Long Beach is different from a lot of other street circuits. It is 'get through the corners and then drag race everybody down the straight'. If you don't have a fast car down the straight, you're not going to be able to pass. It's a completely different type of compromise than your standard street course. We have that one long straightaway and that's where all the action happens."

So what does it take to stay on track?

"Long Beach can turn out to be a real street fight. In order to do well, you need to keep your paint on the car and not leave it on the wall. You do it by not getting involved in other people's disasters," Auberlen said. "Because everything occurs on that one long straight, people get desperate to make things happen. You will see desperate moves, and that's what takes people out -- trying to stick their nose in where there's a wall and you and not enough space for them. You'll see them, two by two, just go straight to the walls."

The Long Beach race will be the first time Auberlen and Lewis have driven together, but Auberlen is optimistic they'll click quickly.

"I'm excited to race in my hometown again, in the Long Beach Grand Prix. It's a great race, a great event, a great happening," he said. "Shane Lewis is an experienced shoe and maybe the two of us can make something happen. Thanks to Shane and Southard for the opportunity to wheel their car around the streets of Long Beach."

-sp

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Shane Lewis , Bill Auberlen