AutoMatters & More: 2023 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach
Another spectacular weekend of auto racing — and many great opportunities for auto racing photography — is in the record books.
I heard from some of the drivers at the media luncheon on Thursday, and then returned on Saturday and Sunday to shoot the Lifestyle Expo, vendor areas, garages and all of the racing series — except drifting on Saturday evening.
Whereas many race weekends at other events often just have one feature race series, the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach included six race series. For race fans, this always represents an opportunity not to be missed.
The feature race of the weekend was Sunday’s IndyCar race — round three in the 2023 NTT IndyCar Series. This series is for turbocharged, open-wheel, formula-type cars with open cockpits. Past IndyCar series winners competing in this race included six-time series champion Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi, Josef Newgarden, Colton Herta, Pato O’Ward and Will Power.
This year’s IndyCar pole position, and the relatively incident-free race (two collisions, for a total of six laps driven under caution), were won by a relative newcomer: Kyle Kirkwood, driving car 27. He was joined on the podium by former Formula One driver Romain Grosjean (car 28) and Marcus Ericsson (car 8).
Yet another major race series running that weekend was the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Their 100-minute race on Saturday afternoon featured three different classes of automobiles, including the new-for-2023 GTP prototype sportscars, GTDPRO and GTD. Brands represented in this truly international series included Porsche, BMW, Cadillac, Acura, Lexus, Corvette, Aston Martin, Mercedes-AMG and Lamborghini.
In addition to driver changes, something that makes this series so exiting for the drivers and race fans alike is that there is plenty of passing, thanks to the speed differential amongst the three classes of racecars.
The weekend also included the Historic Formula 1 Challenge races, during which classic Formula 1 cars took to the track.
As mentioned earlier, the only race series that I did not cover this year was Saturday evening’s always-thrilling Formula Drift Series. I was driving back to my home in San Diego while that was happening.
The first of the two race series at the end of the daytime racing on Saturday and Sunday — before several of concrete barriers on this street circuit were moved aside to let downtown Long Beach traffic back onto some of their streets — was Robby Gordon’s high-flying, pavement ripping, SPEED/UTV Stadium SUPER Trucks. Race fans thrilled to the sights of these trucks leaping over ramps and leaning precariously in the turns, as they raced around the entire race track, side-by-side.
The final races of the weekend afternoons were arguably some of the most exciting, as huge fields (30 plus) of identical, road car-based, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup racecars raced for 40 minutes — side-by-side — in the single make Porsche Carrera Cup North America Series. The differences in performance here were due to the drivers, not the cars.
Believe it or not, it was while covering this support series racing on Saturday afternoon at the exit of the fountain turn, that I truly questioned why I was standing to take close-up pictures at a large hole in the fence as the Porsches were charging towards me, door-handle-to-door-handle. That could easily have been game over for me — confirmed when I asked the safety worker if errant car parts ever flew through that hole, to which he replied something to the effect of: “Yes. That is why I stand behind the fence, at the other end (the leading edge) of the hole!” Fortunately, I survived that very real danger but, to paraphrase Captain Jack Sparrow after the flaming Pirates of the Caribbean scene at the “World of Color” nighttime spectacular water show at Disney California Adventure Park, I hope that you enjoy my pictures because I will NOT be doing that again!!!
To see more complete results of the races, visit https://www.gplb.com/racing and click on the 2023 RACE RESULTS links.
Mark your calendar now for next year’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, which is scheduled to be held on April 19 – 21, 2024.
To explore a wide variety of content dating back to 2002, with the most photos and the latest text, visit “AutoMatters & More” at https://automatters.net. Search by title or topic in the Search Bar in the middle of the Home Page, or click on the blue ‘years’ boxes and browse.
Copyright © 2023 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #787r1
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