Long Beach Grand Prix 2014: Patience Not Always a Virtue [w/ Gallery]
For the residents of the City of Long Beach, the month of April is always a special one. Each year, the famed streets of this Southern California coastal city are turned into one of the most exciting street circuits in the world.Since 1975, Long Beach has played host to numerous forms of racing, including Formula 1 from 1976 to 1983, as well as IndyCar, Champ Car, and the American Le Mans Series.
Many of racing’s greats have driven here, such as Niki Lauda, Emerson Fittipaldi, and Mario Andretti, who was on hand this weekend to give a few lucky fans a ride in IndyCar’s 2-seater.This weekend’s 40th Grand Prix of Long Beach featured not only the IndyCar Series, but also the newly formed Tudor United SportsCar Championship, as well as the Pirelli World Challenge series.
The weekend’s racing action began with the Tequila Patron SportsCar Showcase on Saturday afternoon.This was the third event for the Tudor Series, which combines cars from both the American Le Mans Series and as well as the GrandAm Series. Scott Pruett and co-driver Memo Rojas took the number 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Ford Ecoboost powered machine from pole to checkered flag, winning by a 0.75 second margin vs. 2nd place Jordan Taylor in a Corvette-powered Daytona Prototype.
The 100-minute race ran without as much as a single caution flag, making it a very exciting and fast-paced race. The top finisher in the P2 category was Oak Racing’s Oliver Pla. And in the GTLM class,Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia took their C7.R to the top spot in this highly competitive class. The next race for the Tudor Series will be at the famed Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway, on May 3-4, which Sub5Zero will once again be on hand to cover.
Sunday’s first race was the weekend’s main event – the second race of the 2014 IndyCar season. After taking the pole in Saturday’s qualifying session, Ryan Hunter-Reay lead a majority of the race. But after losing the lead on lap 56 to Josef Newgarden, what can only be constituted as a lack of patience by Hunter-Reay, resulted in an expected winner in Sunday’s race. Hunter-Reay left the pits behind Newgarden, followed closely by other drivers in the lead group. After passing through Long Beach’s famed water fountain, the field headed towards the extremely tight Turn 4.
In a place where most would not dare make a pass, Hunter-Reay attempted exactly that. He dove on the inside of Newgarden’s car, who had already initiated his turn-in. As you can see in the photo above, the result was not great. A total of 5 cars were taken out of the race, some as a result of a secondary crash when they ignored the frantically waving yellow flags before that corner. The crash handed the lead to Scott Dixon, who led the next dozen or so laps after green flag racing resumed. But with only two laps to go, Dixon was forced to pit for fuel, handing the win to Mike Conway. Conway, who started the race in 17th place, finished ahead of Will Power by a margin of less than 1 second.
The Pirelli World Challenge held the honors of hosting the final race of the weekend. Johnny O’Connell took his CTS-V.R from pole to top spot on the podium in the Series’ 2nd race of the year. Andy Pilgrim, his teammate, took second place in another CTS-V.R, managing to hold back the Ferris Motorsports Ferrari of Anthony Lazzaro. We continue to be excited for the growth of this series. With the ability to enter IMSA GT3 cars into the field, teams are now competing with incredibly exciting machines such as Audi R8 Ultras, Mercedes SLS AMG, as well as K-Pax Racing’s newest entries, a pair of McLaren 12C GT3s. This series definitely promises great things to come.
For those who wanted a break from the sun, the Lifestyle Expo gave fans an opportunity to see some incredible cars up close and personal. Mazda’s booth featured a rolling chassis of their incredibly beautiful SkyActiv Prototype. Sadly neither machine proved successful at this weekend’s Tudor Series race. Another key highlight of this year’s Expo was the work of Cal State Long Beach student Ketan Ranade.
The vehicle shown in the picture above is known as GOBO – which stands for Gasoline or Battery Operated. GOBO, which is Ketan’s Masters Thesis project, is a 3-wheel plug-in hybrid concept. The front two wheels are driven by a 50 HP electric motor, and the rear will in the future be driven by a gasoline engine. This booth also featured two mockups of competing body designs. Race fans were asked to vote for their favorite – having direct influence on GOBO’s final design. Projects like this make us wish we could all go back to school and become automotive engineers and designers. We can’t wait to see the final product someday driving down the 405.