With another beautiful weather weekend to host the 49th Annual Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, the racing action thrilled the record crowd on hand estimated at 194,000 for the three-day “World’s Fastest Beach Party” with all reserved seating sold out. In the main event, six-time NTT IndyCar Series Champion and former Long Beach Winner, Scott Dixon, put on another master class clinic in how to save fuel and still turn fast laps to win his second race here and extend his streak to winning at least once every season for 20 years! I was walking down Shoreline Drive after the start and when they had their first caution flag on lap 15, you could already hear Dixon coasting down Shoreline saving fuel. Some other drivers did this too while many others were hammer down on the loud pedal burning fuel like there’s no tomorrow. This shows how much Dixon thinks about maximizing everything every time he’s behind the wheel. Speaking of maximizing, I noticed in Victory Lane that the left rear tire sidewall was scuffed. I asked him what happened and he said that he had hit the wall in Turn 4. He also hit the wall in Turn 8 on his other set! Dixon came from eighth on the grid to earn the 57th win in his career and that leaves him only 10 behind A.J. Foyt with 67 on the all-time win list.

The start of the race saw Felix Rosenqvist on the pole for his Meyer Shank team which was their first ever in the series. Unfortunately, brake issues saw him fade to a ninth place finish at the end. Josef Newgarden was charging hard in the waning laps cutting a four-second Dixon lead to nothing and as he was trying to set up the perfect exit out of the Turn 11 hairpin, he got punted from behind by Colton Herta. Although it was unintentional, the hit was hard enough to bump Newgarden’s car into the air which activated the anti-stall system. This allowed Herta and Alex Palou to pass and ultimately finish second and third.

In the IMSA race, Pipo Derani earned the pole in his Whelen Cadillac but the Ganassi Cadillac team of Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande chose not to change tires during their pit stop in the 100-minute race (which gave them about a three second advantage on the out lap). That was just enough to put them in front of Derani (and his teammate Jack Aitken) after the stops and stay there to win their first race of the year and second Long Beach win in the last three years. In the GTD category, Parker Thompson put his number 89 Lexus on the pole with a new track record. He and his teammate Ben Barnicoat won the race with the car number being a tribute to the first year Lexus sold cars in America.

The historic Indy car race saw a number of sensational cars from the past including Bourdais’ winning McDonald’s Newman-Haas Lola, Jimmy Vasser’s KV racing champ car and Scott Pruett’s Firestone Lola that he used to bring Firestone back to the series and won the Michigan 500 with. Local SCCA Cal Club racer Tim DeSilva won both races! Tony Kanaan and Stefan Johansson were also entered. Unfortunately, Kanaan had a mechanical issue with his Papaya orange 1974 McLaren while Johansson finished just off the podium in fourth on Saturday and snared the final podium spot on Sunday in his 1966 Eagle.

Robby Gordon’s Stadium Super Truck Series saw his son Max take the win on Saturday in front of his dad and Matty Brabham. Unfortunately in race two, Max and Zoey Edenholm got together after a jump on the front straight with Zoey’s truck ending up climbing the fence on Shoreline Drive leading to a stoppage of the race for fence repairs after only three laps. She walked away from that violent crash. Myles Cheek was the winner in that one with Brabham finishing second ahead of Bill Hynes in third. 

SRO GT America featured two races over the weekend and had back-to-back winners in each of the three classes. Jason Daskalos won overall in his Mercedes-AMG GT3 car while Dan Knox was victorious in his Mercedes-AMG GT2. Wrapping up the weekend of repeat winners was Isaac Sherman in his Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 car.

Note: Excitement is already high anticipating next year’s 50th Anniversary of this incredible event. We’ll have many interviews to post from the movers, shakers and winners from this year’s event in the coming weeks. Stay tuned and share the links!

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2024 Larry Mason

The thrill of victory is clear as Scott Dixon exits his car after winning his second Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach and the 57th in his career. 

The grandstands were packed with the most fans since 2008!

When Scott Dixon gets to the front, this is typically the view all the other drivers will get until the end of the race. You can bank on that!

The winning duo of Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande in their bright yellow Cadillac IMSA GTP car took a gamble on not taking fresh tires during their only pit stop. That paid off with track position in front of the pole-sitting Cadillac of Pipo Derani and Jack Aitken. Although Aitken was right on the tail of van der Zande, he couldn’t get by and had to settle for second at the end.

Parker Thompson qualified on pole with a new track record in his number 89 Lexus (shown here leading his teammate) and along with his co-driver, Ben Barnicoat, brought home the victory in the IMSA GTD class.

Tim DeSilva qualified on pole position each day and came home with two victories in his ex-Scott Pruett 1995 Lola. Here he’s shown leading Roddy Jordan in his 2005 Lola and Dennis Firestone in his 1981 Eagle. They would finish that way in Saturday’s race.

Jason Daskalos went two-for-two at Long Beach in his menacing looking Mercedes. He finished ahead of James Sofronas and Johnny O’Connell both driving Audis. The Audi duo finished in swapped positions at the conclusion of Saturday’s race.

Interview and photos Copyright © by Larry Mason (unless otherwise noted)