Long Beach Grand Prix Party Guide
April 19-21, 2013
There's a lot of party "hoopla" during the Long Beach GP!
Photo: Jack Fleming
It's the World's Fastest Beach Party, a three-day event of fast cars, hot girls and hip guys.
The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is a Southern California happening, a sun-splashed must-attend event for those into speed, sound and, of course, suds. There are race cars, race girls and race guys, free concerts – this year's Saturday band was Steppenwolf– and three days of great fun.
The 2013 event is April 19-21 and there will be big crowds all three days.
The Saturday concerts keep the party going at the Grand Prix.
Groups of people go to the Grand Prix and have a blast.
The Miss Grand Prix contest takes place Thursday on Pine Ave.
The Grand Prix brings out huge crowds each April.
The Grand Prix also brings out gorgeous girls!
The on-track action involves sports cars with the American Le Mans Series sports cars and the always-entertaining Toyota Pro/Celebrity race (Satuday, 11:40 a.m.). The featured Indy Cars includes Helio Castroneves, Graham Rahal, James Hinchcliffe and Dario Franchitti.
For many, the Grand Prix is one of the biggest party weekends of the whole year.
This year’s celebrity field has yet to be determined, but PubClub will post the bigger names here when announced.
The Pro/Celebrity race takes place on Saturday.
One of the most popular activities is Formula Drift.
The event also contains an exhibition of Drifting, a judged competition which is best described as ice skating on pavement and they actually have the track all to themselves for a Drifting show the previous weekend, April 12-13, and they are having a night event on the 20th.
Cars run from 8 in the morning until 6 in the evening during race weekend. On both Friday and Saturday evenings after the action, there are free concerts at "the fountain" by the main entrance. Pennywise has played in the past, but the Saturday bands are more likely to be classic rockers like Joan Jett, who performed in 2012.
The start-finish line is along Shoreline Drive, the long, curved main straightaway.
This is a true California outdoor social event. In fact, several thousand people never see a wheel turn. They simply go straight for the bars or grab a cold one and walk through the many merchandise areas, through paddock and pits (special passes required) the Expo inside the Sports Arena (the building with the whale paintings), along the convention center and all over the track itself.
THE PARTY BUS
If you live in the South Bay, get on the party bus to the Grand Prix!
PubClub.com takes a party bus from the South Bay to the Grand Prix on Saturdays. Click here to sign up and for details!
– Where to Party: The Track and The Bars –
For some, the action takes place not on the track but in the bars.
The main entry point is at the large fountain at the Performing Arts Center at the intersection of Ocean and Long Beach Blvd. This is the dropoff point for the PubClub Party Bus and is where the Fiesta Friday and the Saturday concert (6:30 p.m.) take place.
From there, going to the left but keeping the the Arena on the right, it's into the facility itself. There's a buzz about the place, and that's before anyone reaches the margarita stand located at the entrance to the Indy Car paddock. (This along with the adjacent taco stand, is the unofficial main gathering spot at the Grand Prix.)
In the past, the place to be has always been the Yardhouse, which has a big outdoor deck overlooking the water (but not the track). However, the the Pike at Rainbow Harbor area has added new bars and restaurant leaving the Yardhouse in "P3" at best, to use racing terminology.
A mariachi band entertains in front of a bar on the Promenade.
Leading the pack these days is is the Mai Tai Bar, located right above a fountain where the race cars scream by throughout the day. The Mai Tai bar has a friendly staff, mai tais (of course) and a small patio. It's above Bubba Gump, an open-air shrimp house that has an inside bar and plus a patio next to the track. It's at Turns 2 & 3 at the fountain by the Aquarium of the Pacific. The closest grandstands are 36 and 40, with 5, 6 and 7 just over the rollercoaster bridge, which itself provides an excellent viewing point for even those with GA tickets ($35).
P2 (second place) is the Auld Dubliner Irish bar on Pine Ave., where the small patio provides excellent exposure to the racing elements.
One place for a "sit down and take a break" beer is Gladstone's at the Pike Pier. The cars are right beside Gladstone's, roaring down Shoreline Drive at their peak power before hitting Turn 1 and driving around the Mai Tai bar. Access is via the promonade bridge and "the birdcage" spiral staircase. The closest grandstands are 29, 30 and 31.
There are thousands of people walking around – mostly in shorts and other sun-friendly attire – walking up to the radio booths seeking freebies, attempting to peek into the Pro/Celebrity compound (though it's as highly guarded as military instillation), checking out the merchandise trailers and roaming in and out of the Expo in the Long Beach Arena, which this year features BMX biking and other extreme sports (cocktails available inside). The merchandise booths line a walkway and eventually ends across the Bridgestone bridge at Grandstands 19 and 21. Click Here for a map of the circuit.
Some, it seems, have more fun thatn others at the Grand Prix.
Past the Toyota Bridge, which pretty much everyone crosses a few times during the day (or days), is Shoreline Village. With boats and yachts tied up in the harbor, this is a Monte Carlo-type of environment. Restaurants hug the water like a driver holding his line in a tight turn. The pole sitter is The Yard House with its large patio. Hour-long waits are common. Shoreline Village is behind grandstands 27 and 28.
Across the Toyota bridge is the Hyatt. The rooftop will be filled with private parties – it's up to one's imagination what goes on behind the mirrored walls of the hotel's rooms – and inside lobby bar is a stopover resting spot.
Finding fun at the Grand Prix is as easy as walking the track.
The back side of the Convention Center along Pine Ave., features more merchandise areas and access to the other new spots of the Pike via the Tecate bridge. All tickets offer in-out privileges; just be sure and get a hand stamp.
The Grand Prix is as much about socializing as sports. Much of the joy of the Grand Prix comes in walking through the grounds, seeing the scenery, working on the suntan and mingling with others.
PubClub.com contributes to this revelry with our party bus of revelers, who really rev up to the scene. Witness this list of lost items from one year's journey:
• 3 Umbrellas
• 1 Snakeskin jacket
• 1 Blue backpack
• 1 Camera
• 2 Beers
• 1 Set of makeup
• 1 Pair of sunglasses
• The Miss Grand Prix Pageant
The Miss Grand Prix girls bring beauty to the beast of the cars.
The Miss Grand Prix contestants walk the stage in a preliminary round.
Miss Grand Prix finalist Sofia Alverez
adds to the beauty of the scene.
The Grand Prix girls get ready for a pace car ride. Photo: Jack Fleming
The girls get to be in the grif for the races, too! Photo: Jack Fleming
Fans can watch preliminary contests at Long Beach and South Bay bars to choose the next Miss Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Click here for details.
A few years ago , Grand Prix officials reached over the border to bring their race fans a taste of excitement that has been so popular at venues in Australia and Canada. Click HERE for photos of the Toronto and Vancouver Indy events! They brought in the "Bert Parks of Australia," Rosko Dickinson, to put together a pageant featuring 20 beautiful local girls to compete for the title of Miss Long Beach Grand Prix.
This year, however, Dickenson and his Procon Leisure company are back in Australia, and the pageant will be held Thursday night That means the 2013 Queen and her Court will be walking around the Grand Prix grounds all weekend, along with previous winners, such as the gorgeous Anastassia Vassilevska.
The 2013 finals will be held Thursday, April 18, on Pine Ave., 9 p.m.
When the contest was held on Saturday after the concert, it was a sight to be seen, as these pictures surely support..
Tickets: 888-82-SPEED. Website: gplb.com.