Apr 12, 2012
LONG BEACH, Calif. – The 38th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach week is busy for Bobby Rahal.
As president of the Road Racing Drivers Club, he’ll preside over the fourth annual West Coast banquet honoring race car driver and Indy car innovator Jim Hall on April 12.
He’ll also spend much of the weekend on pit lane, overseeing the efforts of Takuma Sato in the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing car and the BMW Team RLL in the American Le Mans Series race on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street course.
Of course, he’d like to close the weekend with his first Indy car victory at Long Beach.
Info to go for the race weekend in Long Beach:
Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach entrant list || Practice Group 1 || Schedule
Pit lane assignments || Tickets, event info || Firestone Indy Lights entrant list
Rahal competed in Long Beach as a driver eight times (1984-1991) and as a driver/owner seven times (1992-1998). He started from the front row twice and finished second four times (1988, 1991, 1992, 1993), and Jimmy Vasser brought the team another runner-up finish in 2002.
The next year – the team’s last time to compete in the Indy car race -- Michel Jourdain Jr. won pole, led a field-high 48 laps and was in the lead when his car stuck in gear on his final stop with seven laps to go and retired in 15th place. Last year, the BMW team of Joey Hand and Dirk Müller gave Rahal his first victory at Long Beach.
Almost everyone has experience on Long Beach circuit: Twenty-two drivers have competed in IZOD IndyCar Series races at Long Beach.
Rubens Barrichello, Simon Pagenaud, Katherine Legge and Josef Newgarden, who raced at Long Beach last year in Firestone Indy Lights, will compete in their first IZOD IndyCar Series race on the street circuit.
Pagenaud and Legge have raced at Long Beach in Champ Car and other series. Pagenaud is a two-time winner in the American Le Mans Series (2010, 2011) at Long Beach and also competed in Atlantics in ‘06. Legge won the 2005 Atlantics race.
“You always like a circuit where you’ve won, right?” Pagenaud said. “It’s fun to drive there. It’s a challenging circuit like most street courses, and you have to have the car set up just right, which I’m sure the HP crew will do.”
Big shoes to fill: Newgarden said the size-14 basketball shoes of Indiana Pacers guard Leandro Barbosa are a tight fit in the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing car.
Newgarden and Andretti Autosport’s James Hinchcliffe participated in a helmet/shoe exchange with Barbosa and Pacers 6-foot-9 forward Lou Amundson (who wears a size-15 shoe) on INDYCAR Night at the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on April 6.
Newgarden will appear on an episode of the TV show “Day Jobs” with musician Hunter Hays on April 19 (10 p.m. ET on the Great American Country network). Newgarden spent time with Hays at the IZOD IndyCar Series Open Test in Sebring, Fla. in early March.
Visiting headquarters: On April 16, the 10 Honda drivers will visit Honda Performance Development in Santa Clarita, Calif., where the Honda Indy V-6 engines are designed, produced and maintained.
They'll also visit American Honda corporate headquarters in Torrance.
Drink up in Milwaukee: Milwaukee IndyFest announced RC Cola, a soft-drink brand of Dr Pepper Snapple Group, as the Official Soft Drink of IndyFest, and have placed a limited number of VIP pit passes on sale at http://www.MilwaukeeIndyFest.com and at the Wisconsin State Fair Park box office (414-266-7100).
The IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights event is June 15-16.
Notable: The Firestone Firehawk primary and alternate tires for Long Beach were previously used this season at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and will be used at all street course events this year. ... Drivers from seven different teams are in the top 10 in championship points. … Charlie Kimball’s live blog (www.CharlieKimball.com) captures his post-session thoughts, race day prep and behind-the-scenes photos from the driver of the No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing car at his “hometown” race. He’s from Camarillo, Calif., and will have more than 50 family members and friends in the grandstands for the race. Kimball made stops to Newport Beach Children’s Hospital and Miller Children’s Hospital earlier in the week to speak with children and families coping with diabetes. … With podium finishes in each of the first two races, Helio Castroneves leads the IZOD IndyCar Series standings. He won from the pole at Long Beach in 2001. ... Lotus Dreyer & Reinbold Racing has renewed its partnership with Wallingford, Conn.-based Lawrence Holdings Inc., a high temperature and specialty alloy distributor. ... Sir Speedy-Monrovia has partnered with Lotus HVM Racing as the team's Official Provider of Printing and Marketing Services.