By Larry Mason
Copyright © 2023 Larry Mason
The iconic event at the picturesque seaside circuit once again roars into the streets of Long Beach on April 14-16, 2023. Headlining the weekend event is the NTT IndyCar Series with practice starting on Friday and the race on Sunday. The IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship will be the main headline event on Saturday with a 100 minute race. Filling out the racing weekend, fans will enjoy the Historic Formula One, Stadium Super Trucks and Porsche Carrera Cup races.
In addition to those events, there’s plenty to see and do off track with the motorsports and lifestyle expo, live music and concerts, a plethora of food options and the opportunity for race fans to explore the garage area and see the race cars getting prepped for their championship races. Additionally, a red carpet premier of the new CW reality show, “100 Days to Indy” is on Wednesday, April12th. On Thursday morning, James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay will be inducted into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame followed by “Thunder Thursday at the Pike Outlets” pit stop competition in the evening. Thursday’s activities are free to the public!
Last year, it was Colton Herta who had the field covered in qualifying with a new track record but he crashed out which left Josef Newgarden to collect his first win here. The weather was also a major part of the weekend with record high temperatures. In the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship, Sebastien Bourdais had pole, got into the hairpin wall trying to get around a back marker, dropped to last, and charged back into the lead, and along with his teammate, won the race.
Last year’s Indy 500 winner, Marcus Ericsson, won the first race of this year at St. Pete and Newgarden won again on the Texas oval two weeks prior to this weekend’s race. Pato O’Ward has two, second-place finishes this year and has only missed Victory Lane due to extenuating circumstances. Who will win this one? O’Ward is really hungry, Herta feels like he missed out last year and Newgarden’s on a role. However, it’s anyone’s guess as the top 20 cars are usually within a second of each other going into qualifying. Furthermore, there are seven former Long Beach winners entered in this year’s race.
On the IMSA side, Acura won the first GTP race of the new hybrid era at the Rolex 24 hours of Daytona, followed by Cadillac winning at the Sebring 12 hours. Cadillac seemed to have the advantage on the bumpy circuits last year and by the results of the first two races, that may be continuing this year. However, Penske’s Porsches shouldn’t be counted out anywhere.
There are 21 Historic F1 cars scheduled to be racing and the sights and sounds of those cars will be mega. The weather forecast is calling for warming temperatures and plenty of sunshine.
It should be another fantastic weekend at the “World’s Fastest Beach Party.” Don’t miss it!
Marcus Ericsson won the Indianapolis 500 last year. He won the first race of this year at St. Pete. He’d like to improve on his last two years at Long Beach where he crashed out both times.
Colton Herta is shown here chasing eventual 2022 Long Beach winner Josef Newgarden. After leading a lot of the race, Herta will no doubt want to reverse that finishing order this year.
Acura will want to win their home race in the (new for 2023) GTP hybrid car which replaces what they raced here last year (shown above).
Former Porsche factory driver Patrick Long swings Formula One World Champion Keke Rosberg’s 1983 Williams around the hairpin on press day in a showing of what will be on track with 20 other F1 cars from that era.-photo by ALbert Wong
The “Beast” is a hand-built Honda CR-V which will make its Long Beach debut this year to show off the engineering aspects of this rolling laboratory. Under the stock upper bodywork there is a hybrid powertrain consisting of a current Honda Indy car engine connected to an electric motor that garners energy from a supercapacitor pack. Up front, the suspension is from an Acura NSX GT3 car. Stay tuned as we’ll have a full story on this car coming soon.
Interview and photos Copyright © by Larry Mason (unless otherwise noted)