Historic Support Races at Long Beach

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First run in 1975 as a Formula 5000 race, then as the U.S. Grand Prix West with Formula One from 1976 to 1983, and CART from 1984 to 2008, and IndyCar starting in 2009, the now titled Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach is the second oldest race on the IndyCar schedule after the Indianapolis 500, and second only to the 500 as the one the drivers want to win the most.  It attracts huge crowds to the Californian street circuit by the sea.

Patrick Long scored two wins in his ex-Keke Rosberg Williams FW 08C Photo Marshall Autry

This year Formula 1 went back to the beach on the weekend of April 14 as the historic support race for the 48th annual running of the event.  The Historic Motorsports Association (HMSA) brought out a field of twenty historic F1 cars from the 3-litre era and for fans, the sound of the V8s and V12s turning over north of 11,000rpm was a call back to the early days.  While the current layout is not quite the same, there is still the long run down Shoreline Drive that allowed the cars stretch their legs.  IndyCar and IMSA may be the headliners, but the iconic period liveries and screaming engines were crowd pleasers and a welcome nod back to the early 70s.

Newest car in the field was the 1983 Williams FW 08C driven to victory at that year’s Monaco Grand Prix by then reigning World Champion Keke Rosberg.  Driven by Patrick Long, in addition to his Le Mans, Sebring, Petit Le Mans, and Bathurst 12 hour victories, the sportscar ace can now add Long Beach to his list, with victories in both the Saturday and Sunday races.  He was followed home on Saturday by regular historic F1 driver, Call Meeker (Tyrrell 009) and Steve Romak in his March 761.  Race two saw Danny Baker (McLaren M23) grab second place from Romak after Meeker non-started.

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