GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH BECOMING CHAMP CAR'S CORRAL OF CHAMPIONS INDIANAPOLIS (May 27, 2005) -- In the 21 years since the series' inaugural trip to the Grand Prix of Long Beach, the Champ Car World Series has competed on 36 different race ...
GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH BECOMING CHAMP CAR'S CORRAL OF CHAMPIONS
INDIANAPOLIS (May 27, 2005) -- In the 21 years since the series' inaugural trip to the Grand Prix of Long Beach, the Champ Car World Series has competed on 36 different race circuits around the world, but no other track on the schedule carries the prestige among drivers, teams and fans that the 1.969-mile Southern California proving ground does.
The race has become the crown jewel of open-wheel street racing in North America and is revered by drivers for a number of reasons. The fans are the key reason for any event's success and Champ Car supporters flock to the port city by the hundreds of thousands every year to watch the best racing drivers in the world do battle, and the ticket holders are rarely disappointed as the drivers and teams do everything they can for the chance to join the pantheon of greats that have tasted Long Beach victory.
"You would be hard-pressed to find a better race venue than Long Beach, which I have always considered to be a model for others to follow," said three-time Long Beach winner Paul Tracy. "There's a real buzz to race week with all the activities and crowd involvement surrounding the event. As a driver, you can't help but get an emotional charge out of competing in such an environment."
One look at the accomplishments of those drivers that hold the title 'Long Beach Champion' quickly explains why the Grand Prix of Long Beach is the race that every single driver wants to win. Race wins have been cruelly ripped from those that failed to treat the bayside circuit with respect, while those drivers with the proper regard for the track have seen their efforts pay off.
In the 21 previous editions of the Grand Prix of Long Beach, only 10 drivers have had the chance to roll under the palm trees and into Victory Lane, with the list of winners reading like a roster of past and future Hall of Fame inductees.
Mario Andretti, Danny Sullivan, Michael Andretti, Al Unser Jr., Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser, Alex Zanardi, Juan Montoya, Helio Castroneves and Sebastien Bourdais are the only names on the Long Beach trophy, and make up a stunning list of accomplishments between them.
Long Beach winners have accounted for 222 Champ Car race victories between them, 200 poles and 14 series titles. In fact, nine of the 10 Long Beach champions also have Champ Car titles under their belts, with Castroneves being the only exception. The 10-man roster has also accounted for 16 Formula 1 wins and 29 poles along with Mario Andretti's Formula 1 World Championship. In addition, the list includes seven Indianapolis 500 victories and five poles, the 10 drivers to have won there account for over 28,000 Champ Car laps led and each of those 10 drivers are among the top 30 in Champ Car history in terms of laps led.
"This race always holds a special place in my heart because it's where I scored the first Champ Car victory of my career and the whole race weekend is such an event," said 1986 and 2002 Long Beach winner Michael Andretti. "The fans and the city of Long Beach are so behind this race that it really makes the weekend exciting for everyone."