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Pandemic Forces Long Beach Date Change

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, December 17 2020

The Long Beach Grand Prix will be moved from its traditional April date next year. (Photo courtesy of INDYCAR)

Concerns over the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in California have prompted INDYCAR officials to proactively reschedule the 2021 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Originally booked for Sunday, April 18, as Race No. 3 of the 17-event NTT IndyCar Series schedule, America’s longest-running street race now will be run as the season-ender on Sept. 26.

The move will create a three-race/three-weekend “West Coast Swing” to complete the championship. Beginning at Portland (Ore.) International Raceway on Sunday, Sept. 12, the homestretch will continue at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif., on Sunday, Sept. 19, before finishing on the historic streets of Long Beach.

COVID-19 concerns forced INDYCAR and Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, LLC officials to drop the event from the revised 14-race 2020 schedule.

“It is important to have Long Beach rescheduled to continue the history and tradition for one of the series’ hallmark events in one of the nation’s premier media markets,” Penske Entertainment Corp. President and CEO Mark Miles said in a news release from Indianapolis. “Further, it’s a tremendous opportunity to wrap up the season with three-straight iconic venues for what we believe will be our most exciting season yet.

“As we did during the 2020 season, we will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and maintain flexibility across our schedule. We are committed to an action-packed and exhilarating 2021 NTT IndyCar Series.” 

The September race weekend at Long Beach will be the first since the event’s inception in 1975. It will mark the 37th time INDYCAR has raced on Southern California’s legendary 1.968-mile/11-turn street circuit, making it the longest-running event on the schedule outside of the Indianapolis 500.

Open-wheel legend Mario Andretti won the inaugural Championship Auto Racing Teams-sanctioned street race in Long Beach from pole position on April 1, 1984. It was the first of Mario’s three Long Beach victories in an event subsequently dominated by six-time winner Al Unser Jr. In addition, Michael Andretti, Alex Zanardi, Paul Tracy, Sebastien Bourdais, Mike Conway, Will Power and Alexander Rossi have scored multiple wins on the challenging circuit.  

“I want to thank all of the officials at INDYCAR for their assistance in rescheduling the 2021 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach to September,” said Jim Michaelian, Grand Prix Association of Long Beach president and CEO. “We believe that this move will afford us the best opportunity to provide our guests with a fun and exciting experience in a safe and unrestricted environment. It will be a welcome sight to see the NTT IndyCar Series cars and stars back on the downtown streets of Long Beach in the fall.”

An updated listing of green flag times for the 2021 schedule will be announced at a later date.

REVISED 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES SCHEDULE

Sunday, March 7 _Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. (NBC)

Sunday, April 11 _ Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham, Ala. (NBCSN)

Saturday, May 1 _ Texas Motor Speedway Race 1, Fort Worth (NBCSN)

Sunday, May 2 _ Texas Motor Speedway Race 2, Fort Worth (NBCSN)

Saturday, May 15 _ Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road-Course (NBC)

Sunday, May 30 _ The 105th Indianapolis 500-Mile Race (NBC)

Saturday, June 12 _ The Raceway at Belle Isle Park Race 1, Detroit (NBC)

Sunday, June 13 _ The Raceway at Belle Isle Park Race 2, Detroit (NBC)

Sunday, June 20 _ Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wis. (NBCSN)

Sunday, July 4 _ Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, Ohio (NBC)

Sunday, July 11 _ Streets of Toronto (NBCSN)

Sunday, Aug. 8 _ Streets of Nashville, Tenn. (NBCSN)

Saturday, Aug. 14 _ Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road-Course (NBCSN)

Saturday, Aug. 21 _ World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, Madison, Ill. (NBCSN)

Sunday, Sept. 12 _ Portland (Ore.) International Raceway (NBC)

Sunday, Sept. 19 _ WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Monterey, Calif. (NBC)

Sunday, Sept. 26 _ Streets of Long Beach, Calif. (NBCSN)

 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, December 17 2020
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