2012 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Preview 2012 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Preview Mike Conway, winner of the 2011 Grand Prix of Long Beach

From an oval perspective, the IndyCar Series goes hand-in-hand with no track more than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. But from a street circuit perspective, it is near impossible to find a circuit more suited to the American open-wheel landscape more than the venue this weekend: Long Beach, California.

Our resident IndyCar correspondent Matt Lennon previews the action ahead of this weekend’s running of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach…


The Circuit

Long Beach Circuit Map

Date: 13-15 April 2012
Lap Length: 1.968 miles / 3.167km
IndyCar Lap Record: 1:09.0650, Will Power (Dallara Honda) – 2011
Event Schedule: Free Practice Session 1 Fri 10:00-11:00
Free Practice Session 2 Fri 14:15-15:15
Free Practice Session 3 Sat 10:25-11:25
Qualifying Session Sat 14:00-15:45
Sunday Warm-Up Sun 09:15-09:45
Race (85 laps, 167 miles) Sun 13:15-15:15
Past IndyCar Winners: Mike Conway (Andretti Autosport Dallara Honda) 2011
Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport Dallara Honda) 2010
  Dario Franchitti (Chip Ganassi Dallara Honda) 2009

Envisaged by local entrepreneur Chris Pook, the first Long Beach Grand Prix was a Formula 5000 race, but the potential of a street track by the harbour in a well-populated and well-attended part of suburban Los Angeles was enough to attract Formula 1 the following year, with luminaries such as Clay Regazzoni, Gilles Villeneuve, Nelson Piquet and Niki Lauda – not to mention Aussie racing legend and friend of RichardsF1.com, Alan Jones – all among the winners here over the existence of Formula 1 at Long Beach.

Unwanted by Formula 1 after the 1983 event, the fans in the southern California area were not to be deprived of an annual motorsport event and the IndyCar Series stepped up to the plate. The series has been a staple in the annual sporting and entertainment schedule of Long Beach each year since.


The Players & Form Guide

2012 IndyCar Series Championship Entry List (Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach):

No. Sponsor Entrant Engine Driver
2. IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet Ryan Briscoe AUS
3. Shell V-Power Team Penske Chevrolet Hélio Castroneves BRA
4. US National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet JR Hildebrand USA
5. CITGO / PDVSA KV Racing Technology Chevrolet EJ Viso VEN
6. Truecar / Lotus Cars Lotus-Dragon Racing Lotus Katherine Legge (R) GBR
7. SEAT León 1.6T Lotus-Dragon Racing Lotus Sébastien Bourdais FRA
8. Brasil Máquinas KV Racing Technology Chevrolet Rubens Barrichello BRA
9. Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda Scott Dixon NZL
10. Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda Dario Franchitti GBR
11. GEICO / Mouser / Petropolis KV Racing Technology Chevrolet Tony Kanaan BRA
12. Verizon Wireless Team Penske Chevrolet Will Power AUS
14. ABC Supply AJ Foyt Enterprises Honda Mike Conway GBR
15. Interush / Panasonic Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda Takuma Sato JPN
18. Sonny’s Bar-B-Q Dale Coyne Racing Honda Justin Wilson GBR
19. Boy Scouts of America Dale Coyne Racing Honda James Jakes GBR
20. Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet Ed Carpenter USA
22. Lotus Cars Dreyer & Reinbold Lotus Oriol Servià ESP
26. Royal Crown Cola Andretti Autosport Chevrolet Marco Andretti USA
27. GoDaddy.com Andretti Autosport Chevrolet James Hinchcliffe CAN
28. DHL / Sun Drop Andretti Autosport Chevrolet Ryan Hunter-Reay USA
38. TBC Retail Group Chip Ganassi Racing Honda Graham Rahal USA
67. TBA Sarah Fisher Hartman Honda Josef Newgarden (R) USA
77. Hewlett Packard Schmidt Hamilton Honda Simon Pagenaud (R) FRA
78. Entergy / Lotus Cars Lotus-HVM Racing Lotus Simona de Silvestro SUI
83. Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing Honda Charlie Kimball USA
98. Barracuda Networks Lotus-BHA Lotus Alex Tagliani CAN

 (R) Denotes ‘Rookie Class’ driver. Entry list is subject to final confirmation.

Combine the prestige of the Long Beach event with one of the most competitive IndyCar fields in history and you have a recipe for another classic.

Mike Conway returns this year as the defending race champion, while Marco Andretti can become the first third-generation winner of the event this weekend.

But with two wins in the first two rounds, is Team Penske still the outfit everyone is chasing?

Matthew Lennon
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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.