Streets of Long Beach Construction Begins

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LONG BEACH, Calif. (Feb. 15, 2011) — The 37th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, set to take place April 15-17, took its first step toward the green flag when construction began this morning on Shoreline Drive, the famed racing circuit’s front straightaway.

The construction got underway with an assist from Formula Drift driver Joon Maeng who appeared at the track for a kickoff photo shoot with his Team Bergenholtz Full Tilt Poker Mazda RX-8. Maeng is preparing to contest the upcoming Formula Drift season which gets underway the weekend before the Grand Prix on Turns 9, 10 and 11 of the 1.97-mile circuit in downtown Long Beach.

The setting of the first of more than 14 million pounds of concrete blocks that line the track marks the beginning of two months of work preparing for the 175,000 fans expected during race weekend.

Grand Prix Association of Long Beach Director of Operations Dwight Tanaka and his staff will put in more than 30,000 working hours installing concrete blocks, three miles of fencing and 16,000 bolted-together tires, along with 16 huge spectator grandstands, seven pedestrian bridges and giant-vision boards for full-circuit TV coverage.

“We also install porta-johns, hospitality suites, tents, trash containers, electrical equipment, phones and a hundred other little things up until race weekend,” said Tanaka. “Then Sunday night, when the last race car has left the track, we start taking everything down, inspecting it and getting it ready for 2012.”

“We want to keep the circuit exciting for our fans and, of course, competitive and safe for the drivers,” said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. “While Dwight and his staff do a terrific job, we couldn’t do it without the help of many Long Beach city departments and a host of private entities.

“That phenomenal support is what helps us make the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach America’s number one street race.”

All businesses along the race circuit, which includes Shoreline Drive, Aquarium Way and Pine Ave., will remain open during construction of the racetrack.

Tickets for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, featuring six racing events including the IZOD IndyCar Series, can be purchased from the Grand Prix ticket office by calling toll-free at (888) 82-SPEED, or you can select your seat online by visiting gplb.com. A handy ticket brochure – which includes circuit map, grandstand and parking locations, ticket prices and order form – can be obtained online or by calling the ticket hotline.

Ticket prices range from $26 for Friday general admission up to $130 for a three-day ticket that includes Saturday and Sunday reserved seats in upper levels of the grandstands. Pre-paid parking packages are also available when ordering through the Grand Prix Ticket Office. Handicapped seating, IZOD IndyCar Paddock access, super photo tickets and a variety of hospitality club packages are also available.

Drift Alliance Takes the Team Drift Win in Long Beach

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Team Drift Alliance took home the top honors at today’s Team Drift competition during the Long Beach Grand Prix. They drifted in front of thousands of fans after the IZOD Indycar Series race and entertained them with their consistent and synchronized drifting through the streets of Long Beach. This is the third victory in a row for Team Drift Alliance which consisted of Joon Maeng in Full Tilt Poker / Nitto Tires Mazda RX-8, champion Chris Forsberg in the NOS Energy Drink Nissan 350Z, and Justin Pawlak in the Falken Mazda RX-7.

More photos and info on this weekend’s activities at the Grand Prix coming soon.

McQuarrie raises eyebrows in opening World Challenge session

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April 17, 2010 (Long Beach, Calif.) – In the lone World Challenge practice session held on Friday, Formula Drift driver Tyler McQuarrie, from Pleasant Hill, Calif. surprised the World Challenge paddock with his pace in the LPL/DR/Switch Cars.com Lotus Exige S.

Despite being mired in traffic throughout the session, and a lengthy pause in the session due to a red flag, McQuarrie was able to hang on toP2 until the checkered in a competitive GTS class. Only multi-time series champion Peter Cunningham was able to turn a lap time quicker than McQuarrie.

“More than anything, being quick out of the box is a great thing for the crew that has worked extremely hard to get this LPL/DRS. Switch cars.com Lotus ready for World Challenge,” said McQuarrie. “Since this was the first appearance of the car in World Challenge, we just wanted to stay out of trouble and learn about how the car works on this track. We learned quite a bit, but we also realized that the team had done their homework since the car was very good from the beginning.”
As this race weekend marks the first appearance for McQuarrie, as well as the first appearance for the Exige S in World Challenge’s GTS class, the first practice left the team full of confidence for the rest ofthe weekend. While the Exige S excelled in the right confines of the Long Beach Grand Prix circuit, McQuarrie also excelled
in the concrete canyons of the track – no doubt due to his experience in drifting on the same course, inside the same walls.

“It’s like flipping a switch, going from drifting here lastweek to driving the Lotus this week,” said McQuarrie. “After spending all of last weekend scraping the walls with my back bumper, driving this car is almost like a piece of cake. It feels great to get back into a roadrace car, especially in the Long Beach Grand Prix. I can’t wait for qualifying.”

Tanner Foust Takes on Celebrity Race at Long Beach Grand Prix

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Foust to race Keanu Reeves, Tony Hawk, Jimmy Vasser and more

LONG BEACH, California (April 15, 2010) – Racing and stunt driver Tanner Foust will take on a packed field of high-profile competitors this weekend during the Pro/Celebrity race, part of the 36th annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

A field of 18 drivers in the charity contest includes a host of media and entertainment personalities, actor and defending celebrity champion Keanu Reeves, skateboard pro Tony Hawk and radio personality Adam Corolla among them.

Racers including 1996 CART Champion Jimmy Vasser, IMSA GT Champion and STILLEN founder Steve Millen will join Foust in the pro category.

“The Pro/Celeb race has a stacked field,” said Foust. “Jimmy Vasser has competed on the streets of Long Beach 17 times and stood on the podium here five times, Steve Millen has arguably the most door-to-door experience —
and that’s not even counting the list of very quick celebs!”

Drivers will get behind the wheel of identically prepared, race-ready Scion tCs in what has become the world’s longest-running, most prestigious celebrity racing event. The pros will give the celebrities a 30-second head-start and it’s expected the on-track action will be fierce.

The 10-lap race on Saturday (April 17) follows a 1.97-mile street circuit through the downtown streets of Long Beach in Southern California, and is one of six featured events during the weekend.

Toyota will donate $5,000 to the Racing for Kids charity in the name of each celebrity racer, and another $5,000 to the winning racer’s charity of choice. Racing for Kids is a national non-profit program benefiting
children’s hospitals in Long Beach and Orange County, Calif. On behalf of the race and its participants, Toyota has donated more than $1.8 million to various children’s hospitals since 1991.

“Both the Long Beach and Orange county Children’s Hospitals are amazing facilities that perform a vital role in their respective communities,” said Foust. “I’m looking forward to meeting the kids and watching their reaction to shaking hands with the stars, like Keanu Reeves.”

A $15,000 donation is also made in conjunction with the 13th annual People Pole Award. Sponsored by People magazine, the award honors the pole-position winner of the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race qualifying session on Friday, April 16.

The event follows Foust’s 2010 debut in the Formula Drift championship. The two-time champion achieved a podium finish in his Rockstar Energy Scion tC, finishing the event in third-place overall.

In addition to running a full Formula Drift season, Rockstar Energy driver Foust’s 2010 competition schedule will also include a packed schedule of European Rallycross events, ESPN’s Summer X Games and select rally events. His next competition is the Portugal stop on the European Rallycross tour, May 1-2.