Stand by race fans, the countdown to the 49th Annual Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach is almost over. In just a couple of days (April 19- 21, 2024) the city streets of Long Beach will be shut down to everyday traffic and the sounds of roaring engines will reverberate off of the buildings around the convention center, arena, Hyatt hotel and Aquarium of the Pacific. Headlining the event this year will once again be the NTT IndyCar Series with practice and qualifying on Friday and Saturday, while a Sunday morning warm-up and main-event race will be on Sunday. Once again IMSA will be the headline race on Saturday afternoon featuring the GTP cars and GTD (GT3) cars. No GTD Pro category this year which means that some of the pro teams will drop down to the Pro/Am category to have another shot at a win. 

Heading into Long Beach on a roll is last year’s Indy 500 champion and 2022 AGPLB winner, Josef Newgarden, who won the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona this year in a Penske Porsche and the season’s first Indy car race at St. Pete. Two-time NTT IndyCar Series Champion Alex Palou is also a winner this year at the non-points Million Dollar Challenge at Thermal Club last month by romping away from his competition. Former Long Beach winner and pole-sitter Colton Herta also won the 12 Hours of Sebring while his teammate and last year’s winner here, Kyle Kirkwood, also won his class at Sebring.

This long-standing event is rich in the team’s data books so trying to carve out an advantage over the competition is always difficult. Expect to see some scraped up race cars and white-walled tires as every driver will be pushing to the extreme limits to try and find lap time in qualifying.

New for this year’s schedule will be the historic Indy cars. There are numerous entries spanning decades in the sport with incredibly interesting history and pedigree. Dennis Firestone (who was 1980 CART rookie of the year) will be racing the Dan Gurney AAR Eagle that he raced at the Indy 500 back in 1982. Tony Kanaan will be racing an Offy-powered McLaren and has promised to push hard to win! SRO GT America racing will take the place of the Porsche Carrera Cup this year with a wide variety of manufacturers in the field such as Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Calloway Corvette, Lamborghini, Mercedes, and Porsche. Robby Gordon’s popular high-flying trucks return along drifting. 

This year’s Saturday night concert has country music on tap featuring country stars Gretchen Wilson, Eddie Montgomery, and David Lee Murphy. Don’t forget Thunder Thursday on Pine on April18th which is Free to the public where there’ll be a pit stop competition and much more. For more information, please visit:

Note: Jim Michaelian is the president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. During this year’s press day, we had the opportunity to hear directly from him on what to expect this year and the challenges of putting on such an event now in its 49th year. Enjoy!

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2024 Larry Mason

At the helm of this iconic event is president and CEO, Jim Michaelian.

Always a rush to get to Turn 1 first at the start of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

The fast and sleek IMSA GTP cars will be battling to get through heavy traffic in the form of GTD sedans for their 100-minute race on Saturday afternoon.

Historic Indy cars (like this locally manufactured AAR Eagle) will roar down Shoreline Drive exposing newer fans to the designs and sounds of yesteryear.

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