LONG BEACH — Indycar’s version of Monte Carlo will take place this weekend as the as the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach returns to the city’s downtown streets for the 48th running of the iconic motorsports event dubbed Southern California’s 200-MPH Beach Party.
Twenty-seven car-and-driver combinations comprise the 2023 entry list for the 85-lap NTT Indy Car race, including seven former event winners and four rookies.
Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet) and Alexander Rossi (No. 7 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet) are two-time Long Beach winners, while Colton Herta (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda), Josef Newgarden (No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet), Helio Castroneves (No. 06 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda), Scott Dixon (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) and Simon Pagenaud (No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda) have celebrated in victory lane one time each.
Last year’s race was especially sweet for Josef Newgarden, the 2017 and 2019 NTT IndyCar champion. After winning at Texas Speedway on March 20, 2022, he went back-to-back by capturing the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 10 and then his wife Ashley gave birth to Kota Nicolai Newgarden, their first child, 10 days later.
“Yeah, you know, it was a great time. It was a good month of April. We have been so fortunate, we have a really healthy young baby boy,” said Newgarden, who returns with Team Penske this weekend. “And to be able to win at Long Beach was just fantastic. It took 11 years for me to finally win the race.”
Newgarden is looking to add a third NTT Indy Car championship to his resume this year. He is once again coming off a victory in Texas (his 26th in the series) and sits fourth in the points after the first two races this season behind 23-year-old Mexican sensation Pato O’Ward, Sweden’s Marcus Ericson, the defending Indy 500 champion, and Scott Dixon, the five-time series champion from New Zealand.
There will be plenty of action for the 190,000 fans that are expected to be in attendance over the three day Long Beach event which will be headlined by the third round of the NTT IndyCar Series on Sunday, as well as the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship on Saturday. In addition, the weekend will include the Super Drift Challenge under the lights on Friday and Saturday nights, the SPEED/UTV Stadium Super Trucks, Historic F1 Challenge and the Porsche Deluxe Carrera Cup North America.
Festivities kicked off earlier this when week two past Grand Prix of Long Beach winners, James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay, became the latest inductees into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame.
The Walk of Fame is a joint project of the City of Long Beach and the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach and new members are added every year during Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach week which was created in 2006 to honor major contributors in auto racing including the likes of Dan Gurney, Phil Hill and Mario Andretti.
.Toronto-born Hinchcliffe won the Grand Prix in 2017 and finished third in 2012. He was the NTT IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year in 2011 and got his first Indy Lights win at Long Beach in 2010. He is now a race commentator for NBC.
“This is such a huge honor. This race is one of my favorites, if not the favorite, on the calendar and has been for a long, long time,” said Hinchcliffe at Thursday’s induction ceremony. “The list of the people on it are some of my heroes. Winning Long Beach in 2017 was a really special moment.”
Hunter-Reay, from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., took the Long Beach checkered flag in 2010, and later won the 2012 IndyCar championship and the 2014 Indianapolis 500 during an outstanding Indy car career that spanned 19 seasons and included 18 wins and 72 top-5 finishes.
“The Grand Prix of Long Beach has essentially been a cornerstone of my racing career,” explained Hunter-Reay. “What an honor it is to be inducted into the Walk of Fame. This circuit has always been one that suited me naturally. The best all-around street course in the world, no doubt.”
Creating the annual Southern California 200-MPH Beach Party is a mammoth task that began over seven weeks ago. More than 2,400 concrete blocks that anchor the safety system around the 1.97-mile, 11-turn racing circuit will be placed along with 14 large grandstands that line the racecourse. In total, Grand Prix Director of Operations Dwight Tanaka, LIUNA and Grand Prix Operations staff will put in more than 33,000 working hours installing the safety system – more than 14 million pounds of concrete blocks, four miles of fencing and 17,000 bolted-together tires – along with grandstands, six pedestrian bridges and eight giant vision boards for full-circuit TV coverage.
NTT IndyCar qualifying will be shown on Peacock streaming beginning at noon on Saturday, April 15, and Sunday’s 85-lap Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach will be televised live on NBC beginning at noon.
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