The Grand Prix of Long Beach is truly legendary. Making its debut in 1975, it’s been an important part of American motorsports history — formerly hosting F1, being a crucial stop on the IndyCar calendar, and seeing all forms of touring and GT-car racing. It’s also helped the quaint, seaside town I call home sit at a level of prominence that not many cities in the world have joined; a street circuit that’s truly a street circuit.
Fun fact: Years ago, the City of Long Beach installed permanent race track curbing in sections of its current configuration; you better believe I’ve bounced my Mazda2 off of it several times.
Because of the LBGP’s prominence, some pretty cool moments in motorsports history have gone down here. Some examples that are lesser-known, are tremendous moments in the late ’80s and early ’90s SCCA Trans Am and IMSA Camel GT. In regards to the former: 1988’s installment of SCCA Trans Am. And lucky us, it’s on YouTube!
A Wide Selection of Important, and Odd, Racing History
This single race had all kinds of cool things going for it. Audi’s early (and kickass) campaign into production-based, turbo five-cylinder, paved-circuit racing, with legendary hot shoes Hurley Heywood and Hans Stuck at the helm. Paul Newman was there, well into his racing career, though a good eighteen years before he retired from it. Lyn St. James and Deborah Greg proving to the world that sexism in motorsports is stupid. A wide range of displacements, with the smaller end having some massive iron snails bolted up (ya know, big ol’ turbochargers).
This was also during the Bruce Flanders era of motorsports announcing. He was truly one of the greatest of all time, and it’s really sad that he passed away a few years ago. Rest in peace.
A Wild Selection of Chassis
And now, some of the odder parts. Isn’t it wild to think that they used to put Chevy Beretta, Buick Regal, and Olds Toronado bodies on race cars? Also, remember Merkur?! Ford’s European import-appeal folly? Not many people remember the Mercury Capri, but it was essentially the Mercury Fox Body Mustang and was campaigned extensively. Unfortunately, it was never anything like the Euro-market Ford Capri.
Anyway, such a wild assortment of cars that are hard to believe they were turned into race cars back in the day. Well, put their bodies on tube chassis at least.
Also, some wacky things on track: Irv Hoerr knocking into Newman at T1, Lap #1 (seems like 50/50 fault, possibly), and then backing up into the pitlane, a major no-no in pro racing, and really any racing. Beer liveries; man it’s been a minute since Stroh’s has been on a race car. Also, Scott Pruett having some unfortunate, shitty luck at the very end. The end of the race was pandemonium in general, with a few drivers limping their cars across the finish line.
It’s a great race to watch on YouTube, and man is it of the era. A must-watch!