By: Miranda Andrade-Ceja, Arts & Life Editor
April 17, 2016
If there’s one thing that keeps me from fully enjoying racing, it’s the sheer lack of action from the stands. The fact that you normally can’t get a clear view of the track and have to rely on (slightly confusing) video shots of racing cars (only catching a .02 second glimpse of said cars) never really appealed to me.
Tiny racing has set a gold standard for race car viewing — it has all of the action, and none of the potentially deadly repercussions that can occur when you’re shredding asphalt at 150+ mph.
The Long Beach Grand Prix expo is held at Grand Prix, offering a number of innovative exhibitions for expogoers to experience. This year’s expo hosted a number of radio-controlled vehicle tracks in which miniature racecar enthusiasts volunteered their time to engage in a number of drift car, monster truck and tank races and demonstrations. The expo was held in the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment center throughout the Grand Prix weekend.
One of the brands exhibited at the Grand Prix expo was Tamiya, a Japanese company that manufactures plastic model kits, radio-controlled cars and various educational models. The Tamiya track held a number of radio-controlled vehicles including (but not limited to): U-Haul trucks, drift cars and semi-functioning tanks.
Mark Santa Ines, a Long Beach native and volunteer “driver” for Tamiya, demonstrated the various electronic vehicles that Tamiya had to offer by engaging in scheduled races for expogoers to see.
This isn’t Santa Ines’ first race. He said that he engages in radio-controlled races every weekend.
“People do [get competitive], but you all get to know each other just by racing against each other so often, and you become friends,” Santa Ines said. “So, I mean, it’s not competitive to where it’s directly against one another. But it’s all in the spirit of sportsmanship.”
A pair of functioning military tanks dominated the Tamiya track for a short demonstration. The 1/25 RCT Panther is a tank capable of “firing” ammunition at any other Tamiya brand military tank, and when fired at, the Panther will actually take damage by slowly shutting down.
Santa Ines said that Tamiya offers not only a range of durable radio-controlled cars, but DIY-esque starter cars for children such as the mini four-wheel drive. The exhibit showcased these zippy cars on a narrow, winding track directly across from the main mini-racing track, and children gathered around the automatic cars to watch them speed by.
“It’s like a slot car, but without the controller,” Santa Ines said. They’re a lot of fun because you have to put them together yourself, so you have to understand the wheels, the motors, the gears. So it’s like a stepping stone.”
Walking deeper into the expo, one might have seen mini monster trucks flailing and sailing through the air from the Traxxas exhibit.
Based in Texas, Traxxas is a radio control model manufacturer that boasts the RC title “fastest name in radio control,” according to marketing representative Taylor Snyder.
Snyder said that though Traxxas was founded in 1986, years later the brand went into a brief hiatus, returning with an innovation that Henry Ford would have been proud of: ready-made RC vehicles.
“Back then, radio control cars were very much a kit. So you would start with a bunch of parts, and you would build them from the ground up. So you would go piece by piece by piece, and sometimes you’d forget pieces or it would get a little weird,” Snyder said. “So Traxxas, when we came back out, came out with the first ‘ready-to-run’ vehicle.”
Traxxas held demonstrations at the expo throughout the morning and early afternoon, attracting clusters of both children and adults.
“We’re on top with our competitors. What sets us apart is that we have something for everyone. We have buggies, we have monster trucks, we have drift cars … so there’s something for everyone in the family and for any terrain,” Snyder said. “RC is very much a niche hobby, but Traxxas makes it available for everyone.”
The RC exhibits at the Grand Prix offer any and all racing fans a way to bring the the sport into their backyards.
By: Will Hernandez, Assistant Sports Editor
April 17, 2016
It was a picture-perfect, sunny setting for the 42nd annual Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix, overshadowed by a controversial maneuver that saw Simon Pagenaud in car No. 22 be the first to fly by the checkered flag on Sunday afternoon.
The top three drivers battled each other for top position for the majority of the 80 races. Pagenaud was able to pull away from Helio Castroneves and last year’s winner, Scott Dixon after lap No. 20 after making a quick exit out of pit road.
“Personally, I think we should have won the race,” Dixon said. “I thought the pit sequence had already been finished, and then to hear that the No. 22 was just coming out, we had already backed off and started saving fuel and when we got to turn one it appeared he crossed the line.”
When Pagenaud came out of the pit road around lap No. 22, he accelerated past the yellow line and merged back into the race too soon, which according to Dixon, is illegal. It was not considered an illegal move by the race stewards however and Pagenaud was not penalized. This enabled him to keep his lead intact for the remainder of the race.
“This is why it’s discussed so often in the offseason, and why there are 40 or 50 warning zones in the rulebook,” Dixon said. “I don’t even know why we discuss the pit zone exits if we’re not going to enforce the rule.”
According to the “Lane Usage” rule of the IndyCar Penalty Guideline, “failing to follow designated procedures entering or exiting the pit area, including the proper use of the acceleration and deceleration lanes,” can result in a minimal infraction or a maximum penalty, which would have put Pagenaud in the back of the race.
“We discussed several times on Friday about that, and by all means at anytime you cannot put more than two wheels over the line of [pit road] and that was my understanding,” Dixon said. “I thought we were done with warnings and all this sort of wish-wash stuff, and stick to hard rules but obviously that was not the case.”
Before Pagenaud, the French Team Penske driver, went out in front of the field, Castroneves, the pole position winner, had a hold on first place. That was before Castroneves and Dixon made the pit stop that Pagenaud capitalized on and jumped ahead to the top spot.
“In the last pit sequence, we managed to past Helio and Scott and it put us in a position to win the race,” Pagenaud said. “IndyCar is really clear on what you can and cannot do and it certainly was on the verge to be stronger penalty. I did get a warning.”
The Long Beach Grand Prix main event was one of the fastest paced races in the history of the event and first caution-free race in Long Beach since 1989 and the most recent in the Verizon IndyCar Series race since Mar. 2013.
By: Will Hernandez, Assistant Sports Editor
April 17, 2016
Through 40 years of exciting events for racing fans, the final Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race during the 42nd annual Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix in Long Beach included a hit worker, two crashes, in race-doughnuts and of course, a winner.
The first wreck took place on lap three, when actor Brett Davern made contact at turn No. 8, and bounced off the tire wall leaving his driver’s side vulnerable. Then, Davern was T-boned by Bob Carter, Toyota Motor Sales’ senior vice president, sending Davern back to the wall.
“I was scared,” Davern said. “I thought going into that corner, I was outside and our tires were going to bump into each other. We were spinning out of control and I just saw Rob’s eyes.”
When a worker came to tow Davern’s vehicle, actor Sean Patrick Flanery was tailing professional IndyCar driver, Max Papis and did not notice the yellow caution flag. Davern was coming in hot and on the turn slammed into the rear of Davern’s car. Fortunately, the worker noticed Flanery, and was thrown across the hood of Davern’s car at the time of impact. Although the worker got clipped, he was walking after the crash, but was taken to St. Mary’s Medical Center, according to the Grand Prix Director of Communications Chris Esslinger.
Despite all the hectic events that took place during the race, the final Pro/Celebrity race went out with a familiar face at the podium. Alfonso Ribeiro crossed the checkered flag as the number one driver for the fourth time in five attempts on Saturday afternoon.
“I’m incredibly excited and happy to win this race and finish Long Beach as the overall champion,” Ribeiro said. “This race got me involved in racing.”
Ribeiro, current host of “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” but more famous for his role as Carlton on the ‘90s television show “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” looked more like a professional driver on the track. He was the reigning champion going into Saturday’s event and held onto the lead after passing Dara Torres on lap No. 2.
“To be part of this and now have my fourth racing championship is pretty special,” Ribeiro said.
Italian professional driver Max Papis was in second place for the last three laps, but missed catching up to Ribeiro by about five seconds. Ribeiro completed the course with a time of 31 minutes and 24 seconds while Papis finished in 31:29.
“[Ribeiro] did such a good job and I tried to catch [him] but I couldn’t,” Papis said. “The biggest thing was the intensity; it was intense as ever.”
It was a crazy and competitive race that included two crashes in the first three laps.
Other drivers in the 40th celebrity race were comedian Adam Carolla (4th, 31:36), actor Frankie Muniz (7th, 31:37) and actor and former race winner Eddie Lawson, whose day ended early after a first-round crash.
Most of the drivers agreed after the race that the Pro/Celebrity will be missed.
“This is the Indy 500 of celebrity races, it’s the only one people know,” Flanery said. “It’s the reason people move to Southern California to become actors.”
Although this was the last celebrity race, the drivers gave the fans something to relish.
By: Miranda Andrade-Ceja, Arts & Life Editor
April 17, 2016
The annual Long Beach Grand Prix didn’t only transform downtown Long Beach into a racing hotspot for the weekend, but also invited a number of interesting attractions, exhibits and opportunities to those in attendance. From the $11 beers to the parking-lot-turned-go-kart-track, the many attractions and sights at the Grand Prix left something for visitors to do in between races.
Grand Prix Expo
Located inside the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, the Grand Prix expo introduced a number of new and innovative automotive technologies to thousands of attendees. Guests could register and engage in virtual reality simulation racing games or sit down for a half hour to get a new set of acrylic nails. Along with these fun exhibits, guests could learn how to replace their own tires, read up on green energy innovations with Long Beach Transit or just browse and view the many Formula 1 cars displayed throughout the center.
Greasy food, like you wouldn’t believe
Many of the food vendors at the Grand Prix were familiar to me based off of county fair experiences. Gluttonous, artery-clogging hocks of meat kabobs grilled over an open flame; decadent fried desserts that dentists cringe at. Unhealthy food is, arguably, one of the key component to any large outside event.
Aside from the vendors, a variety of businesses such as California Pizza Kitchen and King Taco sold their (very pricey) foods to attendees, the latter having two locations throughout the Grand Prix.
The purpose of the second King Taco was a no brainer. Food foot traffic was so intense, purchasing food at the food-truck-taco-stand took yours truly a grand total of a half hour.
It’s not exactly Formula 1 racing, but it’s probably closer than any of us will ever get. Located on the top floor of the parking lot across from the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, the Grand Prix Go-Kart racing offered guests the ability to live out their drift car dreams. Sort of.
The best part? The lung-polluting fumes that usually emit don’t accompany these go-karts — all cars on the track are electric.
Pricey beer at the Grand Prix is a no brainer. If Disneyland can get away with selling $10+ alcoholic beverages, one shouldn’t be surprised at the expensive brews.
That isn’t to say that the beer itself wasn’t surprising.
The Grand Prix sold massive cans of Tecate beer for $11 at various locations throughout the event, which must have served as a pleasant surprise to those who expected a can that was much lighter. And shorter.
Photos by: Johnny Romero, Executive Video Producer
The 2016 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach attracted thousands of people from both in and out of the Long Beach community. Offering fatty foods, interesting expos, and (of course) hundreds of cars that would satisfy any racing enthusiast. Actor Alfonso Ribeiro won the last ever Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race and Conrad Grunewald took the Super Drift Challenge on Saturday. Frenchman Simon Pagenaud took home the biggest prize of the weekend, winning the top spot at the Grand Prix on Sunday.