The Grand Prix of Long Beach, the longest-running street race in the NTT IndyCar series, kicks off Friday.

By TIM YUJI YAMAMOTO, Special to The Rafu

LONG BEACH — The 48th Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach will take place April 14 through 16.

Round 3 of the 17-race season is the longest-running street course race in the NTT IndyCar series.

Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association, made the announcement during the Media Day luncheon held April 4. Describing it as “Southern California’s 200-MPH Beach Party,” he said, “We have activities going on literally from Friday morning to Sunday night.”

Michaelian went on to describe the 6-racing series competing throughout the weekend, one on Friday and the second on Saturday two concerts, night.      

Your reporter before taking a lap on the course during Media Day. (Photo by Nobuyuki Okada)

He also mentioned there will be a lifestyle Expo that showcases various cars, exhibitors offering auto-related products, accessories, racing memorabilia, collectables, travel, home improvement, green power and fitness. Over 185,000 spectators are drawn to this event.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Meliza Humphrey, the senior brand manager of Acura Marketing at American Honda Motor Co., Inc., enthusiastically greeted the attendees.

“Long Beach has been one of the greatest racing events in the world and we couldn’t be more excited because it’s right here in our backyard,” she said, referring to the company’s headquarters just north of the race circuit.

The Acura ARX-06 Dpi (Daytona Prototype International).

Humphrey commented, “It’s crazy to think that IndyCar will be on these streets next week, and Honda power will also be on the streets as well.”  

Acura is Honda Motor Company’s sports and racing division and the main sponsor of the Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Acura had its third consecutive Rolex 24 win and second 1-2 result in this year’s opening race of the IMSA Weather Tech SportsCar Championship at Daytona International Speedway with its new Le Mans Daytona hybrid (LMDh) Meyer Shank Racing Electrified Acura ARX-06 prototype. You’ll be able to see the Acura ARX-06 Dpi and the NSX GT3 race during the

WeatherTech IMSA Grand Prix weekend. Drivers from both these series were introduced during the luncheon.                                                                              

From left: Colin Braun, who co-drives the #60 Acura ARX-06 for Meyer Shank Racing; Ashton Harrison, who co-drives the #93 GTD Acura NSX GT3 for Racers Edge Motorsports; Sheena Monk, who co-drives the #66 Acura NSX GT3 for Gradient Racing.                                                                                                                                            

Acura entered the anime business in 2022 to push the pop culture market with the four-part anime series “Chiaki’s Journey,” which featured the lineup of Acura Type S performance cars. Chiaki will be back along with her mentor, Uncle Noboru, in the continuing journey leading up to the Grand Prix weekend.

Acura has provided the Grand Prix with the several of the high-performance NSX pace cars for the various races over the three-day weekend. The production ended in 2022 for the NSX Type S and all were sold out in presale even before any went in to production.

I was able to ride as a passenger for an exhilarating lap on the race course. Kevin was the pro driver and smoothly took me down pit row on Shoreline Drive, then Turn One, where many drivers could easily pile up trying to get the lead position on the start of the race.

We went past the dolphin fountain S curves and around the short corner coming back on Shoreline, where there is a slight reverse banking, making it a challenge to execute. This is where one will appreciate the grip of the tires and taking it to limit.

Last year’s winner, Josef Newgarden, maneuvers through S curves.                  

We turned left, going a little uphill and passing the Long Beach Convention Center, then turned right onto Seaside Way, the back straight where the NSX hit 100 mph, then to quick braking to go into the next turn, where racers have a tight opportunity to pass.

This is something no video game or simulator can do. Other rides provided for the press were the Formula Drift Challenge cars and the two-seater IndyCar rides.        

Alex Palou

The featured NTT IndyCar Series event showcases an international field of world-class drivers, including: six-time series champion Scott Dixon, defending Long Beach winner Josef Newgarden, past Long Beach winners Colton Herta and Alexander Rossi, plus defending 2022 series champ Will Power, four-time Indy 500 champ Helio Castroneves, and last year’s Indy 500 winner, Marcus Ericsson.

Finishing at Long Beach last year in third place, Spaniard Alex Palou, the IndyCar Series driver, was asked what he is going to do this year at Long Beach. He replied, “Win! “That’s it, that’s what we try and plan.

“It’s great to be here, it’s a great event. We had some good luck and it’s super special for me, obviously me winning the 2021 IndyCar series championship.

“We had a good start of the year so far, coming from a really exciting race at Texas this past weekend. It’s [Long Beach] always a tough race, lots of yellows, lots of different strategies. The walls are really close when you’re driving that fast. We’ll try to start up front and stay up front in the race.”

Takuma Sato

Palou drives the Honda-powered No. 10 for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Past Long Beach winner and two-time Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato of Japan will be noticeably missing from this race. The 46-year-old from Tokyo signed with Chip Ganassi Racing this year to race the oval tracks this year. Road and street courses will be driven by this year’s rookie driver, New Zealand’s Marcus Armstrong, who’s sharing the No. 11 Honda with Sato this season.

Texas marked Sato’s first race of the 2023 season in the No. 11 Niterra Honda. A sixth-place qualifying result ended abruptly when he crashed on Lap 48. Sato is with CGR this year. He’s had success in the past with his first win as a Japanese/Asian driver in the NTT IndyCar Series to win the Indianapolis 500, not once but twice, and is setting his sights on No. 3 in the 107th running of the Indy 500 on May 28.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Sato’s first IndyCar career win here with A.J. Foyt Racing at Long Beach back in 2013.

Other racing on race weekend:

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Race

Super Drift Challenge Competition

Porsche Deluxe Carrera Cup (PCC)

Historic F1 Challenge (GTP)

Speed/UTV Stadium SUPER Trucks (SST)

The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach practice, qualifying and race is April 14-16. For ticket and event information, go to or call (888) 827-7333.

Social media: Twitter: @GPLongBeach, #AGPLB #200mphBeachParty

Instagram: GPLongBeach

Facebook: GrandPrixLB

YouTube: GPLongBeach

The Long Beach 1.97-mile temporary street course runs through the streets of downtown Long Beach, surrounding the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center and encompassing the Aquarium of the Pacific and a portion of The Pike Outlets complex. The start/finish line is on Shoreline Drive.

Photos by TIM YUJI YAMAMOTO (except where noted)

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