Driver Blog: Duncan Ende, The Streets of Long Beach

Driver Blog: Duncan Ende, The Streets of Long Beach

By Duncan Ende

After a four week hiatus – which felt at least twice as long – the American Le Mans Series got back underway for round two on the historic streets of Long Beach, California. While this year's race was only the sixth running of the ALMS race in the famous street circuit, the Long Beach Grand Prix goes all the way back to 1975. It debuted as an F5000 race before hosting Formula 1 and Indycars, making Long Beach second only to Monaco when it comes to historic and prestigious street races the world over, in addition to being the greatest auto racing tradition in California. And on a personal note, as a Los Angeles native and resident, the LBGP is the closest thing I am ever going to have to a home race, so it was even more exciting to get back in the #25 Dempsey/Silicon Tech Racing PC car!

 

Rain isn't expected, or welcomed, at the Long Beach Grand Prix! During our only practice session, we had to deal with a lot of it. As a result, we got very little time on track before Saturday's race.

In nearly every way, Long Beach is about as far removed from the Sebring 12 Hours possible. Where the Sebring track is 3.7 miles with everything from 1st gear hairpins to 5th and 6th gear sweepers, our track in Long Beach is a collection of 11 turns packed into just under 2 miles, none of which are faster than 2nd gear, including a 1st gear hairpin which is among the tightest turns you will find anywhere. Instead of blasting through the flat expanses of central Florida, Long Beach sees us rocketing past high-rise condos and hotels. The most obvious difference between the tracks, of course, is the concrete walls lining the streets: there is no dropping wheels at track out on a street circuit, and barriers beat cars every time they get together! 

This is approaching turn nine of the Long Beach Grand Prix circuit. It is a very bumpy braking zone, which is even trickier when you are dealing with wet conditions.
 
Besides the topography of the track itself, the event is a totally different beast as well. While we have days and days of testing and practice sessions leading up to our longest race of the year in Sebring, at Long beach we have a single 2 hour practice session on Friday morning, the first people out on the track for the weekend (when the track is at its very worst!), 15 minutes worth of qualifying for each class late on Friday afternoon, then a 2 hour race, our shortest of the year, on Saturday afternoon, without even a warm-up session to check track conditions or bed brakes for the race. The only characteristic the two events share is the legions of race fans in attendance!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*
*