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The Best Place To Attend A Race This Week Is…

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, April 9 2012

The Long Beach Grand Prix is the best of the IndyCar street races. (File photo courtesy of the IZOD IndyCar Series)

The week-long racing drought is about to succumb to a deluge of high profile events.  Fenders, no fenders, lots of turns, no turns. Almost everybody who races for a big paycheck is in action this coning weekend and that’s terrific.

Assuming our current understanding of physics is correct in that nobody can be in two places at once – not to mention the current understanding of economics that few of us can afford to be at two events at once – racing travelers have a difficult choice to make this weekend.

The following is one wish list for post-Easter-break travel:

1. Long Beach, Calif. for the Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix.

First, but not primarily, because I have never been. But, because several of my colleagues at RacinToday.com have been – a couple to almost every one of the Long Beach races – I feel kind of acquainted. Certainly acquainted enough to have a desire to go. I believe it when I am told I “need” to go to a LBGP.

Normally, I am not a street-race fan. City streets just do not seem to set up well for racing. But Long Beach

IndyCars are taking it to the streets this weekend. (File photo courtesy of the IZOD IndyCar Series)

seems to be the best of those beasts. It appears to have places to pass and produce decent on-track action. Also, Long Beach has something I really like when it comes to events: history and tradition.

Plus, while urban street races tend to suck, the festive atmospheres which surround them do not. And Long Beach may be the best at fostering that kind of atmosphere. I’ve been peeping the list of festivities and there are some very intriguing things on the schedule.

Plus, it’s a pro-racing double header. IndyCar, which is off to a strong start this season, is the headliner. Very interested to see the new cars, teams and drivers on the streets of Long Beach. Then there is the American Le Mans Series race. Love that series and its interesting cars, teams and storylines.

2. Texas NASCAR weekend.

There is just something about that track that feels big-time. Not Daytona big-time, but a step above many of the other places on the current NASCAR schedule. Race weekends there have that little something extra. Coming up over the hill on highway 114 and then heading through the tunnel still excites. Even getting behind a road hogging golf cart fails to dampen the good thoughts at TMS.

Texas is one of the tracks on the schedule that truly deserves to host two races every year. The actual racing is, on a 1-to-10 scale, an 8. It can dog, but when it gets exciting, it gets really exciting. Nationwide day there is, maybe, as good as Cup day.

And, the corn dogs under front straight grandstands are better than the famed Martinsville hot dogs.

3. NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway.

One of the enduring memories of this job will be standing on the roof of that media center above the

Mike Neff will go four-wide this weekend. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Harold Hinson)

staging area the first time the Top Fuelers went off four abreast. It was extremely cool watching the Christmas trees light up as the cars nudged their way up toward the starting line and then; mama!

No, four-wide racing should not be the norm in the NHRA. Absolutely not. The sport is defined as being one-on-one. They should not even go four-wide twice a year at zMAX. But once per season is special. It’s special without being freaky. You know the teams and drivers hate it but most have come around to the belief that if the fans like it, then let’s do it.

And zMAX as a facility is top notch. Great midway, easy parking, wonderful viewing. And “Dragway”; love it.

4. Camping World Truck Series event at Rockingham.

The Rock was a place that some of us didn’t miss until it was gone. Not easy to get to (whether flying in from outside the region or driving to if from inside the region), not much to do when the cars are not on the track.

But it sure provided bountiful harvests of history and memories. And the racing there was good; seven on the scale.

It fell out of favor with some fans and it lost is dates for that reason. But, it is a place that should be on the Cup schedule and here’s hoping that giving a truck race a date will lead to exactly that.

5. The Formula 1 race in China.

And a distant last-place choice it is. (Sorry, Frank.)

I think F1 needs to be in China. And, I have had a long-standing interest in Chinese history, culture and politics. But, spending time – not to mention money – to go to a race there? Not interested.

I tend toward liking the F1 races at traditional venues like, well, all the European circuits. And, with a race in Texas on the way, no thanks China.

Besides, gotta wonder about the corn dogs in Shanghai. Could be a long march to get a good one.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, April 9 2012
2 Comments

2 Comments »

  • Maggie says:

    Sir,

    Loved our reference to “long march”. Chinese history indeed.

  • Michael in SoCal says:

    Living in Long Beach, I might check out the LB Grand Prix scene on Saturday, but Sunday I’m watching the Trucks race at Rockingham. Wish I could be there!