The gates have opened — and the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach has officially begun.
The three-day event in downtown Long Beach, the city’s biggest annual party, is expected to bring in around 180,000 people this weekend to check out a slew of motorsports races (and practices), exotic cars on display and a live concert, among other events and activities.
The gates opened to spectators at 7:30 a.m. Friday, April 8.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
What are the basics?
The Grand Prix, returning to its normal time slot after the 2021 event took place in September because of the coronavirus, will run from Friday to Sunday.
The gates open to spectators at 7:30 a.m. each day.
The first chance to see races cars in action is 7:45 a.m. Friday, when the competitors in the Porsche Carrera Cup have their first practice.
Most of Day 1, in fact, is set aside for practices, though there are two qualifying sessions — and, in the evening, a drifing competition.
But there’s more than just motorsports: The Grand Prix grounds also boast a lifestyle expo, an exotic car paddock, a family fun zone and a row of food trucks. Party zones — where folks and drink alcohol and live it up is a relatively new addition.
And then there’s the Saturday night concert, free to those with Grand Prix tickets for that day.
For a rundown of events, click here.
How much does it cost?
Tickets cost anywhere from $37 for Friday general passes to $168 for the most expensive reserve weekend seating.
Of course, if you have hundreds of dollars to drop on the event, there are packages that get you access to exclusive clubs — with the most expensive topping $1,000.
For a complete list of prices, click here.
And if you can’t afford to go to the Grand Prix, you can still hear it: the engines are so loud that as long as you’re in the vicinity of downtown Long Beach, you’ll be able to hear the cars zoom along the city’s streets.
Or you can enjoy the Grand Prix from your couch.
I can watch on television?
You can indeed. Or at least you can watch the main IndyCar event on Sunday afternoon.
The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach will return to network television this year, airing live on NBC.
The iconic “Drivers, start your engines” call is set for 12:38 p.m. Sunday, with the race kicking off at 12:45 p.m.
NBC’s Peacock streaming service will also broadcast practices and qualifying.
And if you want to follow along with all things motorsports at the Grand Prix — including from Southern California News Group reporters — you can go to this live blog.
What’s so special about the Grand Prix of Long Beach?
There are multiple answers to that. For one thing, IndyCar street races are fairly rare.
The Grand Prix also takes place in typically beautiful April weather — it’s never rained during Sunday’s main race — along the coast.
And the Grand Prix has been a mainstay in Long Beach for decades — and will remain that way for years.
(Think you know a lot about the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, then take this quiz.)
There’s also the economic benefits of the race.
The Grand Prix generates $63 million for the Southern California region. More than half of that, about $32 million, goes to Long Beach, said Johnny Vallejo, the city’s acting director of economic development. It also supports more than 600 year-round jobs in the local region, with around 350 in Long Beach.
And with the economy still recovering from the pandemic, businesses are excited for the boon the Grand Prix will bring, according to the head of the local chamber of commerce.
For more on the benefits of the Grand Prix and it’s future, click here.
Anything else I should know?
If you want to read more about the Grand Prix, click here.
SCNG will also have reporters out at the Grand Prix all three days. You can follow them on Twitter.
Robert Morales, who has covered the Grand Prix of Long Beach for years, is is the reporter you’ll want to follow if you’re interested in the motorsports aspects of the event. His Twitter handle is @RMoralesPT.
Long Beach reporter Pierce Singgih will be out there on Friday and Saturday covering the Grand Prix from a news perspective — it is, after all, a major news story for the city and the region. His twitter handle is @piercesinggih.
On Sunday, Chris Haire, editor of the Press-Telegram and Daily Breeze for SCNG, will be at the Grand Prix. His twitter handle is @CJHaire.