Long Beach starts prep for April

The green flag signaling the start of construction for the 39th  Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which will run April 19-21, fell Feb. 19 on the circuit’s front straightaway.

“Our race circuit will feature something extra this year as we will be hosting the first-ever night racing in the Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge on Friday and Saturday,” Grand Prix Association of Long Beach president and CEO Jim Michaelian said. “Along with the six other racing events here in April, this should make for one of the most entertaining weekends in our history.”

The setting of the first of more than 14 million pounds of concrete blocks that line the track marks the beginning of two months of work preparing for the 175,000 fans expected during race weekend.

More than 30,000 working hours will be spent installing the  blocks, three miles of fencing and 16,000 bolted-together tires, along with 16 spectator grandstands, seven pedestrian bridges and boards for full-circuit TV coverage. The heavy-duty blocks and fencing, however, are merely a start.

“Leading up to race weekend, our staff will also install hospitality suites, tents, electrical equipment, phones, porta-johns, trash containers and a hundred other little things up until race weekend,” said Dwight Tanaka, director of operations for the Grand Prix Association.  “Then, when the last checkered flag falls on Sunday night, we start to take everything down, inspect it and get ready for next year.”

All businesses along the race circuit, which includes Shoreline Drive, Aquarium Way and Pine Ave., will remain open during construction of the racetrack.

The 2013 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will feature racing from the IZOD IndyCar Series, Firestone Indy Lights, Tequila Patrón American Le Mans Series, Pirelli World Challenge, Formula DRIFT, Robby Gordon OFF-ROAD Stadium SUPER Trucks and the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race.

Fans can select and pay for their seats, parking and paddock passes online at www.gplb.com. Tickets can also be ordered by calling the toll-free ticket hotline, (888) 82-SPEED, and callers can request a printed ticket brochure that includes a circuit map, ticket prices, order form and other information.