Long Beach Grand Prix: How much racing is too much?

There’s no such thing as too much racing — well, perhaps unless there’s not enough time to fit it all in.

Such was the case on a glorious Saturday at Long Beach — “Super Saturday,” which squeezed in track activity for six different series over the course of 11 hours.

It was a fantastic day for anyone who likes racing even the tiniest bit, and a near-perfect one when you factor in the sunshine, spectacular oceanside setting — complete with a harbor and lagoon — and the huge motorsports expo that takes up the entire Long Beach Convention Center floor.

But there was one small blemish on the day: Robby Gordon’s Stadium Super Trucks, which had a 20-minute window to race between IndyCar qualifying and the Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge, had to end its race after only six laps.

Stadium Super Trucks leap off jumps placed as obstacles in the street course, and driver Apdaly Lopez accidentally flipped his truck off a jump on Lap 5.

Typically, track workers just roll an upside-down truck back over and keep going. But this time, it took too long — and officials ran out of time to restart the race.

Gordon apologized to the fans on the public address system after finishing second, and third-place finisher Arie Luyendyk Jr. — also known as The Bachelor — said the drivers were “a little bummed.”

“There’s a certain time window we have to abide by,” Luyendyk said. “But typically, 90 percent of the time we get a full race in.”

A spokesman for the series was critical of the amount of time to get the truck rolled over, telling reporters the race should have gone back to green.

“We are governed by race control of the Long Beach Grand Prix, who put on an extremely great event every year and we’re lucky to be a part of it,” the spokesman said. “However, we’re obviously very upset with the way things happened. … That was just not right, and it shouldn’t have taken so long.”

Race winner Gavin Harlien said he didn’t expect the race would be over when the caution came out and thus felt a little shortchanged.

“That’s not how I want to win, but, I mean, I’ll take it,” he said.

On the positive, side, this sort of thing is only possible when so many series share the track at once. That’s actually a good problem to have from a fan standpoint.

For a $65 general admission ticket (or a $100 weekend pass with a reserved seat), spectators could spend the entire day wandering the course, which snakes its way through the prime real estate of the Long Beach waterfront.

There are multiple spots to stop and observe the cars, take photos or just bask in the California sun; personally, I walked 7.9 miles during the course of the day while exploring the circuit.

From IndyCar practice and qualifying (Alexander Rossi won the pole) to an IMSA’s slick sports cars to Gordon’s trucks to Historic Trans Am cars (that ran in the 60s and still race), it seemed like a non-stop schedule. As I write this, there are still cars on the track —  a drifting challenge competition that goes until 8 p.m. local time.

Anyway, there’s some solace knowing another Stadium Super Trucks race will run tomorrow — and since it’s scheduled for after the IndyCar race, the entire thing should be completed this time.

If not, that’s the only way “too much of a good thing” could ever apply to racing.

6 Replies to “Long Beach Grand Prix: How much racing is too much?”

  1. Awesome story! Sounds like a dream day of racing & time hanging out in the great state of California !!

  2. Why can’t we get more of these events on the tube? Do they still run the Toyota Pro-Celebrity Race?

  3. If you haven’t watched the race yet, I won’t tell you who won… However, Bourdais executed the most incredible pass I have ever seen. Bourdais was ordered to give back a position to Dixon because he apparently used a small sliver of pit lane exit to make his move. I know this “thread the needle” maneuver will be replayed often next week.

    1. I finally watched it and yes it was exciting. Rahal said something about the brakes locking up. It makes sense but I didn’t see the kind of movement typically associated with that. Your comment?

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