After a one-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Grand Prix of Long Beach is back. Throughout the weekend of September 24, the roar of massive crowds — and all kinds of mega-powerful racing machines — will echo through Downtown streets, continuing the prestigious racing tradition that began in 1975. The influx of close to 190,000 racing fans over the course of the weekend will hopefully benefit local restaurants and bars, which will be rolling out the welcome wagon and offering all kinds of enticing food and drink promotions.
The timing of this year’s event in September rather than April was welcomed by waterfront restaurants who have complained that race activities and infrastructure cut them off from residents, visitors, and tourists during spring breaks.
“The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach is going to deliver a thrilling experience just as before,” assured event President and CEO Jim Michaelian. “Race weekend attendees can look forward to six world-class racing events, a Saturday night concert event with Motley Crue frontman Vince Neil, and plenty of off-track excitement that includes the Lifestyle Expo and Family Fun Zone, and Mothers Exotic Car Paddock on Sunday the 25th.”
Construction of the racecourse, which converts the Downtown Waterfront into one of the world’s premier auto racing venues, will adhere to the same schedule as previous years, even though the 2022 Grand Prix will be coming up quickly. “It remains to be seen whether we will be able to leave any elements up for the April 8-10, 2022 event but whatever happens, we will remove any racetrack elements that impact businesses along the track,” said Chris Esslinger, Director of Communications for the Grand Prix.
Race weekend can be overwhelming for some Downtown residents. Grandfathered into the Grand Prix’s contract with the City is the opportunity for residents of five buildings on Ocean Boulevard that were right next to the original 1975 course — Blackstone, Cooper Arms, International Tower, Long Beach Tower, and the Villa Riviera — to be treated to a day or two away from the track. Esslinger elaborated: “This year, residents of these five buildings who signed up by late August will be taken on day trips by bus to the Outlets at San Clemente on Saturday and the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades on Sunday.”
This year, attendees can expect extensive COVID-19 safety protocols and should prepare accordingly. Here are some critical new developments:
- A new Health Order by the City of Long Beach on August 18, effective August 19, advises that attendees at all outdoor “mega events” – those with attendance of more than 10,000 people – will be required to wear facial coverings in all outdoor and indoor locations, regardless of vaccination status, unless they are actively eating or drinking.
- The City will require that staff and spectators at the Grand Prix show proof of vaccination or a negative test to enter, and masking for all individuals will be required.
- Grand Prix of Long Beach is strongly recommending that unvaccinated persons who will need a negative COVID test to enter get a free COVID test no earlier than 72 hours prior to September 24 to avoid any delay in entering the facility.
- Kids from ages 2-11, who are currently not eligible for vaccines, will also require a negative COVID test no earlier than 72 hours prior to September 24. Kids 12 and older can show either a negative COVID test or proof of vaccination.
- City of Long Beach will provide rapid COVID testing at all major entryways to the race circuit on race days.
Children younger than two are exempt from wearing a mask. Others who won’t have to mask up include those with medical, mental, or disability conditions that prevent mask-wearing, and folks who are hearing impaired or are communicating with someone hearing impaired.
For detailed information about race schedules, race-related special events and concerts, and COVID-19 protocols, please visit the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach website.