Graham Rahal

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- The surroundings have changed over the years, but Graham Rahal remembers adventures as a youngster when his father was racing in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

He’d visit with friends who lived nearby, take in some golf and go to the beach.

“I’ve always enjoyed it here; it’s a fun place for us to come," said Rahal, who took part in a media day at the circuit with participants in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity race (in photo below with actors Cole Hauser, Brett Davern and Max Thieriot). "Since I finished second last year, I can’t wait. This is one of my favorite races every year and it’s one of the ones I enjoy the most. It’s always been a difficult place for me – for whatever reason – I’ve always been fast and run up front but something has always gone wrong.

“I’m excited to be here and be able to come off the second-place finish here last year and keep that momentum going to have a good result.”

Click it: Get tickets to the 40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

The second Verizon IndyCar Series event of the season is April 11-13 and features the third standing start in series history.

"I think it will work well here. We all want it to be good,” said Rahal, who competed in the Champ Car World Series finale in 2008 that used a standing start on the 1.968-mile, 12-turn temporary street course. “This is a first time for a lot of us and we haven’t had a lot of practice with this car and the new engine specs (for Honda, which added twin turbos this season). We’ll be getting used to it but it’s the same for everybody so we’ve got to go make the most of it. I’m sure it will be a good show.”

The Toyota Pro/Celebrity race features actors such as Adrien Brody, Tricia Helfer and Corbin Bleu, plus Olympic gold medal-winning sprinter Carmelita Jeter. It will be televised April 27 on CBS.

The Pro/Celebrity Race supports Racing For Kids, a fundraising program for children’s hospitals throughout the United States. Through donations made by Toyota Motorsports and Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., the Pro/Celebrity Race has generated more than $2 million on behalf of the race and its participants, benefiting Miller Children’s Hospital of Long Beach and Children’s Hospital of Orange County.

Graham Rahal