Buying Time- Changes at the Front of the Schedule?

Indycar is considering pushing the opening of the season into April. The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is set to start the 2021 NTT Indycar Series the weekend of March 5-7. At that time attendance restrictions will likely still be in place. By moving the race to late April the series and Green Savoree Promotions are hoping for fewer restrictions as more COVID vaccinations will have been given by then. Green Savoree lost two races last season, Toronto and Portland. They hosted a double header weekend at Mid Ohio with just 6,000 fans a day and held the St. Pete race as the season finale with a limited number of fans.

The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, originally set for April 18, is now the season finale September 26.

The new calendar may have Barber moving back a week as well and serving as the season opener. Currently slotted for the weekend of April9-11, Barber would move to April 17-18, followed by St. Pete the following weekend. Through 2011, St. Pete and Barber were on back to back weekends.

St. Pete has not put tickets on sale as of yet with the race scheduled about eight weeks away. This tells that that something is going on. The decision needs to be made soon, since the track build would have to begin around the first if February.

Other series have either postponed or placed restrictions on their early events. Formula1 has postponed the first race, the Australian Grand prix to a yet to be determined date later in the season. IMSA has modified attendance and infield access for the Rolex 24. The Tulsa Shootout and the Chili Bowl will go on as scheduled with limited attendance and restricted fan access. The Tulsa health department will monitor the Shootout and may shut down the Chili Bowl if rules including mask wearing are not enforced.

Changes at the Rolex 24 Hours

Changes for the Rolex 24 emailed to ticket holders two weeks ago:

Unfortunately because of these required protocols, the following experiences have been cancelled:

  • Garage Access
  • Fan access to grid walk and ballfield for pre-race festivities
  • Infield Tent Camping
  • Infield Car Camping
  • GEICO Park West Tent Camping
  • Café 24 Breakfast

All 2021 Rolex 24 At DAYTONA 2-Day or 4-Day admissions are still on your account and will be available to download/print approximately two weeks before the event as we will not be mailing tickets or camping passes in 2021. This also includes your free admission to the Roar Before the Rolex 24, January 22-24. For more information on how to access your tickets using Tickets @ Home, click here. For our guests with a cancelled experience, we understand this news is disappointing and we have placed a credit on your account for the cancelled experiences.

We recognize that many factors, including your ability to travel, may have been impacted by the pandemic, and we want you to understand your options as you make decisions related to attending the 2021 Rolex 24. Please carefully read your options below based on your specific Rolex 24 At DAYTONA experience.

We thank you in advance for your cooperation in keeping everyone safe.


RV CAMPING INFO

RV Campers will be limited to six people per campsite, and all RVs must be self-contained as shower facilities will be closed. In addition, for the safety of our competitors and staff, the garages, paddock and pit road will be closed to fans, and the grid walk and ballfield access will be also be closed to fans for the 2021 event. As a result, Garage access is no longer included with the 4-day admission. We understand this news is disappointing, and we have placed a credit on your account amounting to 20% of your 4-day admissions.

Four day parking is available for $60. Cars must leave the track at the close of each day’s activities. This does not apply to race day.

Long Beach Moves to September Finale

The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, originally scheduled for April 18, has moved to September 26 and will be Indycar’s season finale. The move is to ensure the race, which was cancelled in 2020, does run in 2021. I expect more changes to the early part of the schedule. Promoters likely have put a backup plans in place after the many cancellations and postponements of this past season. Three straight weekends of West Coast racing sounds heavenly. The official announcement from the NTT Indycar Series is below>
Series to return to the legendary Streets of Long Beach in September INDIANAPOLIS (Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020) – The 2021 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach has been rescheduled for Sunday, Sept. 26 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials from INDYCAR announced today. Long Beach is one of the foundational events on the NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule and one of the longest running. Additionally, the move creates a thrilling three-race, three-weekend west coast swing to complete the championship. Beginning at Portland International Raceway on Sunday, Sept. 12, the homestretch continues at, what would be the finale under normal conditions, WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on Sunday, Sept. 19, before finishing on the historic streets of Long Beach. “It is important to have Long Beach rescheduled to continue the history and tradition for one of the series’ hallmark events in one of the nation’s premier media markets,” Penske Entertainment Corp. President and CEO Mark Miles said. “Further, it’s a tremendous opportunity to wrap up the season with three-straight iconic venues for what we believe will be our most exciting season yet. As we did during the 2020 season, we will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and maintain flexibility across our schedule. We are committed to an action-packed and exhilarating 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES.”  The September race weekend at Long Beach becomes the first since the event’s inception in 1975. It will mark the 37th time the NTT INDYCAR SERIES has raced on Southern California’s legendary street circuit. The familiar sights and sounds make for the longest running event on the schedule outside of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. “I want to thank all of the officials at INDYCAR for their assistance in rescheduling the 2021 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach to September,” Grand Prix Association of Long Beach President and CEO Jim Michaelian said. “We believe that this move will afford us the best opportunity to provide our guests with a fun and exciting experience in a safe and unrestricted environment. It will be a welcome sight to see the NTT INDYCAR SERIES cars and stars back on the downtown streets of Long Beach in the fall.” An updated listing of green flag times for the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule will be announced at a later date.

Long Beach Cancelled

From the Long Beach Grand Prix:

LONG BEACH, Calif. (March 18) — The Grand Prix Association of Long Beach today announced that it will not be able to conduct the 2020 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach at a date later in the year.

The Grand Prix Association also announced a ticket credit/refund policy for 2020 Acura Grand Prix ticket holders.

“Over the past few days, we have actively pursued the possibility of rescheduling the Acura Grand Prix to a later date this year with the City of Long Beach, the Convention Center, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and our other race sanctioning bodies,” said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association. “We are very disappointed that we were unable to put something together for all our loyal fans and valued clients, but trying to reassemble all the elements that have made the Long Beach event such a success does not appear feasible for 2020. As a result, our attention will now be focused on planning the 46th Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 16-18, 2021.”

With the Acura Grand Prix unable to be conducted, the following two options will be offered to 2020 ticket holders:

The first option allows ticket holders to receive a credit for tickets purchased which will apply to the same level of admission to the 2021 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach event. The credit will come with a Price Protection Plan which will not only protect them against any price increase for the 2021 Acura Grand Prix but also guarantee they can purchase the same level of ticket for the 2022 event at the 2020 price.

The second option gives ticket holders a full refund (less the processing fee) by April 30, 2020.

The 2021 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach will take place April 16-18.

Acura GP of Long Beach Cancelled for Now, Possibly Rescheduled?

A statement from the Grand Prix of Long Beach this afternoon:

STATEMENT ON 2020 ACURA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH


March 12, 2020

In light of today’s announcement from the City of Long Beach prohibiting all large-scale events in the City through April 30, 2020, the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach will not take place as scheduled on April 17-19. While we recognize that this is a serious inconvenience for our loyal attendees, sponsors and other clients, nevertheless, this action is consistent with our primary objective of assuring the public’s safety and well-being at our event.

We are in conversation with the City of Long Beach, various race sanctioning bodies and the Long Beach Convention Center to discuss the viability of rescheduling this event at a later time in the year. If that is not possible, then we look forward to presenting the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 16-18, 2021. Further details about possible refunds or credits will be forthcoming.

 

The City of Long Beach has cancelled all large gatherings through April 30, 2020. Long Beach is one city that could reschedule a street event. I hope Indycar can find an alternate date. Long Beach is one of the races Indycar shares with the IMSA Weather Tech Championship. No Grand Prix in Long Beach this year would end a 45 year run for the event.

 

Long Beach is Safe and Other Tidbits

Photo: © 2007 Kayte Deioma, courtesy of www.KayteDeioma.com

 

 

Good news this week about the Long Beach Grand Prix. The  Los Angeles Angels baseball team announced an agreement to remain in Anaheim  through 2050. A major portion of the track was considered for a new stadium for the Angels after their current stadium  contract with Anaheim expires at the end of 2020. A baseball stadium would significantly impact the Grand Prix.  The Acura Grand Prix is the second longest running event on the NTT Indycar Series calendar. 2020 will be the 45th running of a race on the streets of Long Beach.

The Indycar race has fought off other attacks in the past few years. The city council considered proposals to return the event to an F1 race. That idea was voted down. The race is safe for the next thirty years.  I wonder if the Angels were simply using the exploration of Long Beach as leverage to get a better deal from Anaheim.

F5000 Revival

The Formula 5000 Drivers Association will have three Revival Races in 2020, at Road America, Watkins Glen, and Circuit of the Americas. This sounds like something worth an extra trip to Road America for me. Full information is in the link below:

F5000 Drivers Association Unveils 2020 Revival Race Series

Formula 5000 ran from 1967-1976 with 5 liter V-8 engines. Originally under SCCA sanction, USAC joined the Sports Car group in sanctioning the series. The sound of these cars was amazing. If one of these events is near you, I encourage you to attend.

Fred Watch, Part III?

Fernando Alonso has confirmed he will enter the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500. He is still uncertain which team he will drive for.  The decision will be between Andretti and Arrow McLaren SP. I see a possible issue with each team. Will Honda allow Alonso to drive for Andretti?  In 2019 Alonso failed to qualify for the race with McLaren. While the team appears to be in better shape than last year.  However, James Hinchcliffe barely made the race last year after missing the 2019 500.

Alonso will not announce which team he will be with until after the Dakar Rally in January.

Back next week with more observations and a special post recognizing some podcasts.

Quick Thoughts- Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach

The  streak of clean starts came to a quick w\end at the fountain.  Not surprising, but the bigger surprise was that was the only yellow of the day.

Indycar needs to do a better job of getting the cars lined up before the start, Only three or four rows were lined up.

What a dominant drive by Alexander Rossi. This is the Rossi I expected to see at St. Pete. I think his season actually started today.

I wonder if NBC could pout a camera outside the track opposite the fountain. I’m think there could be some great shots from there.

The NBC scoring pylon is okay, but it is very disconcerting when they change sponsors and wipe out the data for a few seconds. You like the Firestone standings?  Get a load of the NTT board. Just switch the name at the top.

Will Power will be happy to get to Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  He has had issues three weeks in a row. He is fortunate to be sixth in the standings.

Sebastien Bourdais did a nice job coming back from the right rear tire problem on his first stop.

Scott Dixon had some great battles on track.  Loved watching him challenge Rossi and Power,  then stalk Ruan Hunter-Reay and Graham Rahal in the final laps.

Another awful day for Colton Herta. His botched pit stop was followed by race ending contact.   He now has two consecutive last place finishes but still leads the rookies in points.

Rahal definitely blocked Dixon and cost himself a podium. The good news for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing is the team has three top ten finishes the last two weeks, giving them a lot of momentum heading to Indianapolis.  The team has found something. watch out for both drivers the rest of the year.

Takuma Sato has lead two straight races and now has 5 bonus points.

Look for a full race report on Wildfire Sports tomorrow.

The Pit Window moves to summer headquarters later this coming week, so I may only be here if some big news breaks.

Quick Thoughts- Long Beach Qualifying

Photo by Kyle McInnes

I really like Indycar Live before qualifying. Krista Voda and A. J. Almendinger did a great job on the set and also in the time between rounds on NBC Gold.  I hope we see this more before qualifying.  In fact a midweek Indycar show might be nice.

I would be happy to not hear the term “Go Fast Day” ever again. I really don’t want to hear it on Pole Day at IMS.

That was a great qualifying session. Every round had some intrigue.

Felix Rosenqvist is having an awfull difficult time at Long Beach. If he doesn’t cause a caution tomorrow, I’ll be surprised.

Once again, Hinchcliffe and Bourdais get bitten by the red bug.

Is this the beginning of Pagenaud’s resurgence?

Is this the real beginning of Rossi’s season?

Honda cars seem a lot faster than the Chevys on black tires.

Graham rahal now has been in The Fast Six two races in a row and Sato just missed.  The RLL team has found something. I hope it continues.

Look for a complete qualifying report on Wildfire Sports tomorrow.

Rossi Leads Practice 3; Edges Rahal on Last Lap

Defending Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach champion Alexander Rossi nipped Graham Rahal for the fastest time in the final practice session before qualifying by 0.13 seconds. Rahal had jumped to the top of the chart with just a few minutes to go. Team Penske drivers showed more speed today with Simon Pagenaud fifth, Josef Newgarden sixth, and Will Power tenth.

The time sheet:

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