LONG BEACH (News4usonline) – Welcome one and all to the 2022 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach! The annual race weekend is back after putting on a show back in September.
With the Covid-19 pandemic putting a pause on things for two years, the Acura-sponsored race has doubled up its appearances in a matter of months.
It’s three days of drivers getting behind the wheels and crew members doing their thing in the pit, the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach is a smorgasbord of street car racing with the NTT Indycar Series, Super Drift Challenge, the Porshe Carrera Cup North America, IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship, and the SPEED Energy Stadium Super Trucks being on display to pacify race fans.
The 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit encircles the Long Beach Convention Center — which houses a Family Fun Zone and numerous displays during the race weekend — and runs down scenic Shoreline Drive. The course offers numerous overtaking opportunities, including Turn 1, getting the hairpin turn just before the frontstretch right is critical.
Bill Keuler, who is the chief of cars during the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach Prix, is an admirer of the types of vehicles being showcased.
“I like everything about the cars and they’re unrecognizable from a streetcar,” Keuler said. “They don’t look anything like a streetcar and that’s why they’re called prototypes. As you can see, they’re beautiful.”
When it comes to talking about his favorite part of the job, Keuler, who has been part of the grand prix for 17 years, said putting in the work in the pits is what does it for him.
“My favorite part of my job is pit stops,” remarked Keuler. “Pit stops are the most fun and working with these cars. They’re purposely built, and they come apart and go together fairly easily compared to a GT car which is more of a streetcar.”
When it comes to the pit there are a lot of moving pieces behind the scenes of street racing. Besides the usual suspects of drivers, crew members, pit staffers, there are publicists running around setting up interviews, and mechanics working on cars.
Chase Towse is in the business of promoting. A member of the marketing team with the Skip Barber Racing School, Towse was drawn into the sport of racing at a young age and enjoys every minute of it.
“Well, I was a fan from when I was young, like too young to really be a fan,” Towse said. “I’m 25 now. I started staffing racing when I was about 7 or 8. I got into IMSA when I was in middle school age and Flying Lizard [Motorsports] was my favorite. He started getting into race cars when he was 22 and started working for Skip when I was 23. So, I’ve been a fan my whole life and been working around here for about two years.”
Towse is excited about being part of the race weekend.
“It’s good,” Towse said. “We were here six to eight months ago. It hasn’t been a full year, so it’s my second time here within the year. It’s a different vibe and it’s very hot in LA. It’s good so far, the turnout is good…just another day in the office. I’m sure the spectators love it. I was a spectator before I worked here, so being on both sides of the fence, it’s a good vibe.”
Some men and women have been working with cars at this event for many years. They love what they do. It’s a privilege for many of these folks just to be part of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Jamie Gale, a technical mechanic, is one of those individuals. Gale is a longtime fixture at the event and is grateful to see the race whenever it comes to Long Beach.
“It’s awesome,” said Gale. “We always love coming to Long Beach and we’ve been coming here since 1996 and so it’s a great spot.”
Working with cars has allowed Gale to enjoy the race weekend more, he said.
“I’ve been working on race cars since I was about 18 years old, starting [with] working on go-carts,” Gale said. “I used to race go cars and then got a job working in a race team in go cars and then went up the ladder and so pretty much my whole life.”