Mario Andretti, who won three Indy car races and the 1977 Formula One race on the streets of Long Beach, Calif., will be the grand marshal of the 40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 13.
“It is totally appropriate to have Mario as grand marshal for our 40th race,” said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. “Over the years, he has been an important part of our history and heritage, and we’re happy to honor his contributions to the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in this way.”
Andretti won the 1984, ’85 and ’87 CART-sanctioned races on the 1.67-mile temporary circuit, while his son, Michael, won the 1986 race (Mario started third and finished fifth). The ’84 race was the opener of Mario Andretti’s last of four (3 USAC, 1 CART) championship seasons.
Click it: Get tickets to the 40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
“I raced for four decades on just about every course imaginable,” said Andretti, whose grandson, Marco, will compete in the race in the No. 25 Andretti Autosport car. “And I have been associated with the Grand Prix of Long Beach since its beginning in 1975. So I think I speak with authority when I say that it is by far the most successful street race ever staged in American motor racing history.
“Obviously, the fondest memories I have of the streets of Long Beach are my victories, but the entertainment and ambiance away from the track has also become classic. No one leaves Long Beach without vowing to come back. It is truly amongst the best I’ve ever seen and I’m proud to be serving as grand marshal this year.”
Andretti also will be honored during the race weekend at the annual Road Racing Drivers Club event.
IndyCar Series drivers add star power to 12 Hours of Sebring
Sebastien Bourdais seeks to make it two endurance race victories in a row as co-drives the Action Express Racing entry in the Twelve Hours of Sebring this weekend.
Bourdais, who will participate in the IndyCar Series Open Test on March 17-18 at Barber Motorsports Park with KVSH Racing, rejoins Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa in the Corvette Daytona Prototype. They won the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January.
Bourdais set the fastest lap time in two days of testing last month on the 3.74-mile circuit.
Simon Pagenaud will co-drive an Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b. Pagenaud, who teamed with Scott Dixon to start from the pole in the race at Sebring International Raceway for de Ferran Motorsports in 2009, has finished second in class each of the past four years.
Dixon, the reigning IndyCar Series champion, will co-drive a Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Daytona Prototype with 2013 Indianapolis 500 champion and new Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Tony Kanaan and 2013 Firestone Indy Lights champion Sage Karam.
Also on the entry list: Justin Wilson in the Michael Shank Racing with Curb Agajanian Daytona Prototype, Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires driver Gabby Chaves in the DeltaWing Racing Cars entry, Ryan Briscoe in the Corvette Racing GT Le Mans class entry and Ryan Hunter-Reay in the SRT Motorports car in GT Le Mans. Martin Plowman, who will drive for A.J. Foyt Racing in the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis and make his Indianapolis 500 debut in May, will co-drive a BAR-1 Motorsports entry in the Prototype Challenge class. NBCSN IndyCar Series analyst and Indianapolis 500 competitor Townsend Bell will co-drive an AIM Autosport car in the GT Daytona class.
Fore on No. 4
Team Penske owner Roger Penske made his first hole in one last weekend at Augusta National’s 154-yard fourth hole.
That same weekend, the team won both stock car races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The odds of an amateur making a hole in one: 12,000 to 1.
Bryan Herta Autosport announced that LegalShield, one of the nation's leading providers of legal safeguards for individuals, families and small businesses, will be a full-season associate sponsor the No. 98 car driven by Jack Hawksworth. … The Outdoor Channel has signed a multi-year deal with ESPN to telecast IndyCar Series races in Brunei, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan, Palau, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan and Vietnam. ... Pagenaud co-drove a Peugeot S2000 to victory in the Rallye National de la Vienne in France last weekend. Video highlights below: