The roar returns to Shoreline Drive in Long Beach this weekend.
The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, a motor sports street party featuring several types of racing cars on a tight and challenging street course, is back after the pandemic put the brakes on plans in 2020. The Sept. 24-27 dates mark the first time the Grand Prix of Long Beach has been in September since the event's inaugural Formula 5000 race, which took place on Sept. 28, 1975.
Here’s what to know about the 2021 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
What are the COVID rules?
Fans will need comply with a new health order issued by the City of Long Beach that went into effect in August. It requires people attending outdoor mega-events, those with attendance of more than 10,000, to wear masks. That goes for both indoor and outdoor locations regardless of vaccination status.
The order also requires staff and spectators to show proof of vaccination or a negative test to enter. Organizers strongly recommend that unvaccinated fans who need a negative test to enter get a free test no earlier than 72 hours before Sept. 24 to avoid delays at entrances.
Children ages 2-11, who are not eligible for vaccines, will also need to have a negative test no earlier than two hours prior to Sept. 24.
The city will provide rapid COVID testing at all major entrances, starting Tuesday and through race weekend. Click here for testing schedules and complete list of health safety rules to know.
What is the schedule?
The main event, the NNT IndyCar season finale, is scheduled for 12:45 p.m. Sunday. Saturday features the IMSA SportsCar Grand Prix of Long Beach, a 100-minute race that includes different classes of prototypes and production-based cars. Before that race on Saturday, the IndyCar competitors will qualify to determine grid positions for the start of Sunday’s race.
Click here for the full weekend event schedule, which includes Formula D Super Drift Challenge Competition, Global Time Attack Competition, Stadium SUPER Trucks and Historic Formula Atlantic Challenge races. The Vince Neil Concert Presented by Acura and ASM Global is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
What kind of race cars will be there?
You’ll see six different types of competitions.
NTT INDYCAR Series
The INDYCAR field features familiar names and some fresh faces who have added some excitement to the premiere open-wheel series in the United States. A champion will be crowned in Sunday’s season finale. Alex Palou, a 24-year-old star in his second season, appears poised to captured the driver’s title, barring a complete collapse. He would become the series’ first Spanish champion. His closest competitor is Pato O'Ward, a 22-year-old driver for Arrow McLaren SP trying to become IndyCar's first Mexican champion. Two-time champ Josef Newgarden is a longshot.
Don’t miss Saturday’s qualifying event. It’s high-stakes battles for grid position, setting the stage for Sunday’s green flag run to Turn 1.
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
The series features three different classes of race cars, so you’ll see exotic prototypes and production-based cars like Corvettes and Porsches on the track at the same time. You’re getting three races in one with series points up for grabs in each class. Saturday’s race will be a 100-minute street fight on a track where things rarely go as planned, so be ready for anything at any time and anywhere on the track.
Super Drift Challenge
This is where things go completely sideways. It’s not about how fast you get around the track, but how you do it. Drivers slip and slide in a controlled drift around the street circuit, leaving a cloud of smoke in their wakes.
SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks
Ramp jumping trucks bring the desert to the streets for two weekend races.
Historic Formula Atlantic Challenge
Nostalgia will be on track with two races of the Historic Formula Atlantic Challenge. These open-wheel racers competed on the streets of Long Beach from 1978-82 and 1989-2008.
Global Time Attack
Drivers in modified street cars in three classes have a single goal — set the fastest lap of the track. A team’s fastest lap of the weekend is the only one that counts on the time charts.
What about tickets?
There are several ticket options. You can buy tickets at the track or pre-order here. If you’d like to see the IndyCar paddock, you’ll need to buy a ticket for that, too.
Where are the best places to watch?
Drivers carve their way through the 1.9-mile, 11-turn track where a mistake often means contact with tire barriers or the unforgiving walls lining the course. The stakes are high at every corner. Shoreline Drive’s grand stands provide a view of the fastest part of the track and pit lane, where races can be won and lost in moments. Other seating areas are near tight corners where drivers battle for position.
See the track map below for a look at what you’ll see where.
What’s the best way to get there?
There are several reserved parking areas near the track. Click here for a map of parking options.
The Metro A (Blue) Line stops just a few blocks from the track entrance. It’s a great option to avoid traffic on freeways and streets. Click here for A Line information and other public transit options.
If using a ride-share service, the official race circuit drop-off point is on First Street between Elm and Long Beach boulevards.
What about the weather?
This week has been hot, but expect a cooling trend to start Thursday. Conditions should change with a return of onshore flow and the arrival of a low-pressure system that will likely cool temperatures into Sunday. Many areas could see temperatures drop by 5 to 10 degrees on Thursday, bringing us back to near-normal temperatures.
Wildfire smoke from fires in Northern and Central California has plagued SoCal, so you might want to check air quality conditions here.