Michael Lewis to 'Crank it Up' at Grand Prix of Long Beach Media Day. LONG BEACH, Calif. -- The streets of Long Beach will again hear the rumble of a throaty V-8 engine as Michael Lewis turns laps in his No. 12 Trans-Am Tools by ProQuest Jaguar...
Michael Lewis to 'Crank it Up' at Grand Prix of Long Beach Media Day.
LONG BEACH, Calif. -- The streets of Long Beach will again hear the rumble of a throaty V-8 engine as Michael Lewis turns laps in his No. 12 Trans-Am Tools by ProQuest Jaguar XKR during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Media Day. The event is scheduled for Tuesday, April 1, from 8:30 a.m.--3 p.m.
Lewis, who has competed regularly in the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup since 1994, has one victory to his credit, in 2001 at Road America. In all, Lewis has 23 top-five and 43 top-ten finishes in 77 starts in the Series.
Lewis will be joined at the event by Champ Car World Series driver Jimmy Vasser and CART President and CEO Christopher R. Pook, as well as drivers from the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, Historic Grand Prix and the Toyota Pro/Celebrity races.
Lewis considers the Grand Prix of Long Beach circuit his home track.
"Being from San Diego, Long Beach is the closest thing we have to a home race," said Lewis. "That alone makes it significant. It really is the jewel of the Series. Being a race fan since I was a kid, I went to the original F5000 race in 1975, as well as all of the Formula One races, and most of the Champ Car World Series races. It certainly has special meaning to me because of all of those memories.
Lewis also thinks the 1.968-mile temporary street course is a true drivers' course.
"I've always liked the layout," said Lewis. "The course has a really nice flow to it. Even with the changes they've made over the years, it's still one of the better tracks that we have. It allows you to exercise the car and show its true performance potential, unlike some of the tight windy circuits. This place has some places where you can really get the car working.
"The one problem, as with all street circuits, is the how the racing surface changes over a particular day," added Lewis. "What's quick in the morning doesn't seem to work in the afternoon. What's quick after the Champ Car race, after they lay down two hours of rubber, is another matter entirely. So, it's a little tricky to find a setup that will work in that wide range of parameters."
In his six Long Beach starts, Lewis has finished in the top three twice, in 1999 and 2001.
"Unfortunately, it's been a feast or famine race for us," said Lewis, who finished 15th in last year's event. "We finished on the podium a couple of times, but we've also had terrible luck there while running well, including last year. We were running near the front when we had an axle break. Hopefully this will be a feast year, especially with the problems we had at St. Petersburg."
Lewis, who finished ninth in the season opener at St. Petersburg, hopes to contend for the Drivers' Championship this season.
"With the depth of the field this year, you can't have more than one bad performance, and we've had ours," said Lewis. "We have to hit home runs every time now. That's a heavy load, but we're up to the task. We're making some changes, the guys are working hard on the car, and we're looking forward to it."
The Trans-Am Series has raced 11 times at Long Beach since 1987. Scott Pruett, who claimed the inaugural victory, won the 2003 season opener at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Last year's event is considered by many to be the most exciting Trans-Am Series race on record. Paul Gentilozzi emerged from a spectacular last-lap three-car duel with Boris Said and Justin Bell to win his fourth race at Long Beach.
The Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup features closed-fendered, production-based, V-8-powered sports cars. The Trans-Am Series is America's oldest continuously running sports car racing series and celebrates its 38th anniversary in 2003.
The next Trans-Am Series race is scheduled for April 13, during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend. The race will air on a same-day, tape-delayed basis on SPEED Channel at 9 p.m. ET.
-scca pro racing/transam-