The fortieth running of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will feature a change in its usual format, with event organisers opting to have the famous IndyCar race do away with its traditional rolling start.

For the first time since the Champ Car Series’ final visit to the Californian street circuit in 2008, the race will get underway with a standing start.

Standing starts were adopted at a handful of street circuit races last year, with the first being the second double-header race at the Grand Prix of Toronto.

“One of the unique parts of IndyCar racing is its different formulas – racing on short ovals, superspeedways, street and road courses – and standing starts is another one of those components that in the right place at the right time is good to showcase,” Derrick Walker, the series’ President of Competition and Operations said.

“It’s a great location and I think the fans will like it. Long Beach has a history of standing starts, and in its 40th anniversary race this ties in with that tradition.”

The Long Beach race will see the field undertake two formation laps before lining up on the starting grid along Shoreline Drive. Mirroring the Formula 1 starting procedure, five pairs of red lights will be illuminated at one-second intervals on the starting gantry before all are extinguished, marking the start of the race.

Standing starts are still very much a novelty feature in almost all American-based motorsport championships, and their introduction in last year’s IndyCar season saw a few ‘learner driver style’ getaways and the occasional bit of carnage as the faster starting drivers had to try and dodge their slower-launching rivals.

While that do little to avoid triggering the almost inevitable first-lap carnage at Long Beach’s famous first turn, the practice of a rolling start at the venue was always something of a joke given the final corner – a 180° right-hand hairpin – was far too tight to allow any cars starting off the first three rows of the grid to line up side-by-side in time for a proper rolling start.

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Geoff Burke

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