Long Beach Grand Prix: What to Watch This Weekend

A guide to the race action this weekend at the 42nd Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

Six races are on the schedule for this weekend's 42nd Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, a motor sports street party featuring several types of racing cars on a tight and challenging course. 

Drivers will carve their way through the 1.9-mile, 11-turn track where a mistake often means contact with the unforgiving walls lining the course and dramatic changes in position and hold-your-breath moments. Several different types of race cars, from sports cars to open-wheel racers, will be on track before Sunday's main event.

The event's history dates to the mid-1970s, when the powerful and lightweight open-wheel Formula 5000 cars stormed the track in the first Long Beach Grand Prix. Long Beach soon attracted the world's most prestigious series, Formula 1, and its internationally famed drivers and teams.

The final F1 race in Long Beach was in 1983, but other forms of open-wheel racing continued to attract crowds to Shoreline Drive for years to come.

Click here for a full schedule of events during race weekend. Click here to download the official fan guide.

Here's a quick look at what to watch at the 2016 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

The Cars

The weekend features six races with different types of race cars -- even within the same race. The International Motor Sports Association series features both prototype and production-based cars on the track at the same time. Look for purpose-built race cars alongside Ferraris, Porsches, BMWs and Corvettes.

The Verizon IndyCar series is the Sunday feature event. These open-wheel race cars have complex aero packages that produce high down force, allowing talented drivers to corner with speed. 

A field with about 40 sports cars makes up the Pirelli World Challenge. Makes include Acura, Bentley, Porsche, Dodge, Chevy, Cadillac, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mercedes and Porsche. The race is usually one of the most action-packed of the weekend.

The SPEED Energy Stadium Super Trucks offers something completely different. Ramp jumping trucks bring the desert to the streets for two weekend races.

Everything goes up in smoke when the Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge cars screech around the track. Drivers slip and slide in a controlled drift around the street circuit.

Finally, stars will be in race cars for the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race on Sunday for a 10-lap sprint for charity.

Friday Events

The event in downtown Long Beach opens to the public on Friday with several practice sessions and qualifying events. Paddock areas will be open, offering fans an opportunity to view the cars up close before the weekend crowds arrive.

What to Watch: Anyone fortunate enough to have Friday off can avoid the weekend crowds and take time to browse the paddock area, where mechanics and other race team members will get the cars ready for practice, qualifying and race sessions. Watch the IMSA field qualify at 5 p.m.


The Pro-Celebrity drivers will take the green flag for the first race of the day at 11:40 a.m. The 10-lap event features celebrities and pro drivers, who will start at the back of the field and work their ways up through the pack.

IndyCar qualifying begins at 2 p.m. and concludes with the Firestone Fast 6, a final round shootout involving the fastest six drivers to determine the starting grid for Sunday's race.

IMSA prototype and production-based racers take the track at 4:05 p.m. for the 100-minute competition. 

Saturday wraps up with the drifters back on track for the 7 p.m. Super Drift Challenge Competition and the Rock-N-Roar concert with Cheap Trick, starting at 6:45 p.m.

What to Watch: The Sports Car Grand Prix features the United State's premiere sports car racing series -- the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship. The multi-class format means there are several competitive races to watch, all within one event. If you're looking to cheer for a local, Redondo Beach's Bill Auberlen will be in the No. 25 BMW M6. BMW Team RLL has won at Long Beach three times -- 2011, 2013 and 2015.


Sunday's racing starts with the 10 a.m. Pirelli World Challenge -- a 50-minute race featuring a large field of sports cars. 

The weekend's feature event, the Verizon IndyCar Series Race, begins at 1:30 p.m. Drivers will compete for valuable series points in a race that requires speed, strategy and some good fortune to win.

The weekend of racing closes with a Stadium Super Trucks event at 4:05 p.m.

What to Watch: The main event field includes several past winners at Long Beach. The series includes well-known drivers and fan favorites like Helio Castroneves, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Scott Dixon, Marco Andretti and Juan Pablo Montoya.

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