Friday at the Grand Prix: Fans Enjoying Great Weather, Racing & Music
April 19, 2024

Mario Andretti himself said it best again this Friday. “It’s an event,” the legend remarked, repeating a phrase he has used through the years.

You can see it in the race cars and in the eyes of the fans. You can hear it with the engines and DJs. You can even smell it with the rubber on the road and the sizzling of meats on the grills at the many food vendors.

The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach is just that, an event, and the 49th version roared into action on Friday. Fans poured through the gates with the quick steps of anticipation as they made their way through the very familiar grounds around the convention center, arena and Shoreline Drive. 

The cars of NTT INDYCAR SERIES, the IMSA WeatherTech Series, GT America, Historic Indy Cars and the bouncing trucks of the Stadium Super Trucks filled the temporary track on the city’s most scenic downtown streets. As DJ Ape Drums pumped out his signature Caribbean and Latin-inspired rhythms for Fiesta Friday presented by Acura, the rubber-burning Formula Drift cars were sliding their way though turns 9, 10 and 11.

Fans were thrilled to see and meet their favorite NTT INDYCAR drivers during the late afternoon autograph session and stopped to watch crews work on the team cars in the paddock all day. They wandered through the Expo and Family Fun zone, stopping to look at the near-dizzying number of displays, line up for coveted freshly-printed Acura t-shirts and shop at the vendor booths. Parents smiled as their kids took a seat in the  free-to-ride “Lil’ Lightning Racers” electric-powered cars, bumped into each other in bumper cars and slid down a large slide.

Some walked around the sunny grounds with giant Modelo beers while others rocked out in the Nocaut Tequila Club. The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach is truly an attraction for all fans.

Two qualifying sessions were held on Friday in preparation for races on Saturday.  On the pole for Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech race are Pipo Derani and Jack Aitken in GTP and Ben Barnicoat and Parker Thompson in GTD. The GT America pole sitters are Johnny O’Connell in the SRO3 class, Dan Knox in GT2 and Gray Newell in GT4.

Andretti, who won here four times and drove in the first event back in 1975, knows the passion the Long Beach Grand Prix brings to people, along with the excitement and energy of a street race. An event? Absolutely.

Tickets are still available at