Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes Contribute to Successful Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Weekend DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 12, 2006) -- Saturday's Crown Royal Grand American Challenge of Long Beach--the first-ever street race in the history...
Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes Contribute to Successful Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Weekend
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 12, 2006) -- Saturday's Crown Royal Grand American Challenge of Long Beach--the first-ever street race in the history of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve Daytona Prototype class--has been credited with contributing to an increase in attendance at the historic Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
The Daytona Prototype debut at the 32-year-old Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend was one of six events on the three-day docket, joining the Champ Car World Series, Champ Car Atlantic Championship, Formula Drift, SPEED GT and the Toyota Pro/Celebrity races. The Long Beach Press-Telegram reported "noticeably larger" crowds on Friday and Saturday, while ESPN.com reported that the three-day attendance increased 10 to 15 percent from last year. Several media outlets reported three-day attendance figures upwards of 200,000 race fans.
With Sunday's Champ Car World Series attendance estimated at 80,000, roughly 120,000 spectators passed through the turnstiles during the two days that the Daytona Prototypes were on track. SPEEDTV.com reported that "Grand-Am really helped bring back the Friday and Saturday crowds," and added that "...it doesn't hurt that the Grand-Am field with Gidley, Gurney, Cheever, Moran, Pruett, Papis, Fittipaldi, Fernandez, Dalziel, Diaz and Vailante made the show look more like a CART doubleheader."
"The Crown Royal Grand American Challenge race was a huge hit with our fans," said Jim Michaelian, CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. "It certainly was a prime contributor to our very successful inaugural 'Super Saturday' program."
With a 4:00 p.m. PT start time, the Crown Royal Grand American Challenge wrapped-up a busy day of on-track activity. Nevertheless, thousands of fans remained in the grandstands lining the 1.97-mile circuit as the green flag dropped on the historic Daytona Prototype event.
"Without question, the inaugural Crown Royal Grand American Challenge of Long Beach was a success," said Grand American Road Racing Association President Roger Edmondson. "We knew going in that the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is one of the best-attended road races in North America, but we are thrilled that we contributed to bringing even more fans to this historic event last weekend. I feel strongly that we exceeded the expectations of everybody involved with our first-ever Daytona Prototype street race."
A lengthy full-course caution period on Lap 11 of the 52-lap event did little to dampen the enthusiasm of the Southern California race fans, as the grandstands were still full when Scott Pruett took the checkered flag in the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley and celebrated in Victory Circle alongside co-driver Luis Diaz. Early feedback through the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and Grand American web sites indicates that fans in attendance were enthusiastic about the Daytona Prototype action.
"I wanted to say that the Rolex Daytona Prototype cars and the drivers are 'keepers,'" said e-mailers 'David and Susan.' "I've been coming to Long Beach for 28 years and this was the best paddock of drivers and cars to date. Everyone was friendly and open when you would approach them. Even some of the top drivers in the world were warm and friendly."
Next up for the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve is the VIR 400 at Virginia International Raceway on the weekend of April 21-23. Ticket information is available at www.virclub.com or by calling (434) 822-7700, ext. 116.