Long Beach, CA-Mike Conway came out of nowhere to win the Long Beach Grand Prix last year. Conway, who is representing A.J. Foyt Racing, is looking to this year’s race and defending his title. Conway, speaking to reporters during a meet-and-greet media luncheon in downtown Long Beach, said he’s looking forward to this weekend’s race, barring weather conditions.
“I think it’s kind of cool feeling to comeback after we won last year,” Conway told News4usonline.com. “I am looking forward to the weekend ahead. It’s going to be some mixed weather, so if can change some things up, that’s what’s it’s all about.”
The course for the 38th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is expected to be a little slick with expected rain to come down steadily for at least one day during the weekend, which might make things tricky for Conway and other drivers. The course in Long Beach presents its own challenges for drivers, but even with the rain, Conway said he should be able to navigate his way around the track with no problems.
“We know street circuits kind of go their own little knacks, with all the different bumps, and different curves, stuff like that, but I don’t want to give too many secrets away,” Conway said. “The crowd is always great, which is awesome. We get so many big crowds here Saturday and Sunday. That’s really one of the cool things about it.”
The first day of the three-day event features practice runs by drivers and a qualifying times for celebrities participating in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race on Saturday. Sunday is the main feature with the Toyota Grand Prix Race of Long Beach, which serves as a qualifying race in 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series. Pirelli World Challenge Race will also take place on Sunday.
The American Le Mans Series and the Firestone Indy Lights Series will also be on display over the next three days.
After last year’s victory, Conway said he doesn’t feel any added pressure to win this year.
“Not really,” Conway said. “I got that win out of the way, and kind of just focus on trying to get the next one. It would be great to go out and try to do it here again, but it is not going to be easy. It’s always tough competition. But we’ll see. Last year was the same as always, really, we just wanted to do the best we can to qualify for the race to see what happens.
“A lot happened in the race for me, going from being third all the way back down to 21st, then managing to find my way back through. You really never know what’s going to happen in IndyCar races, so you just have to keep hanging in there all day and see what you can get.”
Growing up, Conway preferred to race motor bikes than get behind a wheel of car and drive off at top speed. It started with go-cart caring because he wanted into something to occupy his time on the weekends. After a while, Conway discovered that racing cars legally was something he thought he could be good at.
“I did not really enjoy the sport as much as school,” said Conway. “I wanted something to do on the weekends. What I wanted to do was race motor bikes, but that wasn’t going to last. So soon as you get hooked on something, you’re into it. It takes up all of your time, and over your weekends. Before you know it, you’re racing all over the place, different countries. It’s been kind of a great journey I suppose.”