Gran Prix Of Long Beach, Saturday Rundown

California is the place for great cars, and the Gran Prix of Long Beach was clearly a place to launch some great car news and see some great racing.  The Gran Prix of Long Beach has had a storied and politically troubled history.  Still off the F-1 hey day, the GP is picking up energy again and was a spectacle enjoyed by everyone in typical SoCal style.

The practice and tuning sessions early in the day let everyone get some one on one time with the track and the fans.  The Indy Drivers signed autographs on Friday and were out running their qualifying laps in the early afternoon.  You could hear the roar clear up to 7th avenue and Main at the train station.

While the Indy drivers where getting ready to hit the Track the Pro Cup drivers like Rob Morgan of TruSpeed were signing autographs and handing out this years hot ticket, the temporary tattoo.

As the sun headed west and the Indy cars were put up for the night, the ALMS cars came out and set up on the track.  The ALMS race was a great way to finish off a Saturday.  Sitting in the stands or walking the track, you couldn’t help but stare at the ALMS cars roaring by like an out of tune chorus.

The throaty Corvettes chasing around the Porsche’s and Ferrari’s with the elegantly tuned exhaust notes stopped everybody in their tracks.  Even small children would stop and point with a smile.  The Ford GT was surprisingly quiet as were most of the “prototype” cars.  Those expecting the Aston V-12 prototype to have the depth of the DB-9 were probably a little disappointed.  If I didnt’ have a program, I would have never known it was an Aston.

Watching the ALMS mix of cars is always a thrill with Ferrari’s, Corvettes, Porsche’s and the Prototypes all out on the track at the same time.  Two of the Prototype cars had under steer problems on a back turn.  One of them hitting the tire barrier under a yellow caution.  Both of them targeted the same pile of tires.

The Patron sponsorship of the ALMS series was evident across the Porsche and Ferrari cars.  The black Ferrari’s with the neon green stripes were quite a site as they rounded the end fountain.  The weather was slightly cloudy, and a nearly perfect 72 degrees.  A last minute pass paid off for Patron driver Simon Pagenaud as he battled it out with Adrian Fernandez in the AstonV-12 powered car.  The win was by just .353 seconds.

The car that may have surprised many people watching the ALMS race was the lone Jaguar XKR.  It may not have won, but every spectator knew when that car had the loud pedal mashed to the floor board and when it was downshifting for the corners.  The sound was completely unique on the track a solid growl without the V-8 “throat” of the Vette’s.

TruSpeed Motorwerks of Costa Mesa chose to use the Gran Prix of Long Beach to announce the are now Authorized for Ferrari service and given the number of Ferrari’s on the course, it might have been the perfect venue.

The big announcement came a little later in the day when veteran driver and former Star Racer TV reality show judge Paul Tracy announced he will rejoin KV Racing and that he would be running in this years Indy 500.  The father-son team of CR “Rik” Crews and CR “CR” Crews will be spotting for KV Racing this memorial weekend and maybe even for Paul Tracy as he takes to the track at Indianapolis.

Mario Morales and Takuma Sato will be driving for KV Racing in Sunday’s Gran Prix of Long Beach IZOD Indy Car Race. Team Penske put 3 in the top 6 for Sunday’s race with Will Power of Verizon Penske taking the pole.

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