Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach – My First Experience


I stayed at the Hairpin throughout IndyCar qualifying and I do have to say it’s a visceral experience to be that close to the action for my first trip to a Grand Prix. I’ve seen IndyCar before at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, it was a completely different experience as I was in the Penske suite where there’s air conditioning, waitresses, and all the food you want. I’d give that up in a second to be on the inside of the Hairpin at Long Beach, sweating, with no wait staff to get me drinks, just me, my camera, and a bottle of warm water. 

Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of places to shoot the Long Beach Grand Prix from. Some of the best photographs I’ve seen of the event have come from outside the official photographer areas, hell some are even from the parking garages surrounding the track. If you ever get the chance to get inside the fence you have to go to the inside of turn 11, you won’t forget it.


Pictures don't do Turn 11 justice, you might as well give the drivers a high-five you're so close.

After hanging out at the Hairpin for the IndyCar qualifying and “Fast Six” it was time for the TUDOR United Sports Car Championship, this is the series that merged with ALMS for 2014. ALMS, behind F1, is my favorite racing as the cars are beefed up production models along with Prototype racers. In my opinion the Z4’s from RLL are the best looking cars in the field. I’ve read about them multiple times here on MotoIQ but to see them in person was awe inspiring. The width of these GT cars and the sounds they make will stay with me for a very long time. 


By far my favorite car in the TUDOR United Sports Car Championship. Check out our Nerds Eye View of the BMW RLL Z4 GTE

During the TUDOR race I walked around the track, A LOT. I wanted to see the cars from as many vantage points as I could. I wanted to make sure I took in as much as possible because who knows if I will ever get to be this close to the action again?


Sometimes you think the drivers want to be at Long Beach Airport instead of the Grand Prix Ciruit the way they try to take off at Turn 8. 

As you can see I made my way down to Turn 8, this turn leads onto the back straight so exit speed is very important. One of the best parts of the need for that speed is the cars have to eat up the inside rumble strip and you get to see 2 or more wheels in the air as the Porsche illustrates above. Due to the design and frailty of the IndyCars and the Prototypes you don’t get to see as many wheels up so watching the GT class eat up that corner on two wheels just adds to the overall excitement. At this point I’m still as giddy as a school girl getting chased around the playground by their crush, is there anything that can make this day any better? 

Oh there is! There’s one really cool spot that you really can only see while watching the race on the television that I told myself I had to see the race from, the Fountain turn. This is probably the most majestic spot on the whole track, if not in all of racing. Over the years of working here at MotoIQ the pictures from the Grand Prix of Long Beach that I have enjoyed the most come from this turn. The backdrop of the fountain and the landscaping surrounding it make for some very eye pleasing photography.


I had a lot of fun here at the Fountain.

I started at the entrance to the Fountain Turn, it makes for some great photography but it’s tough to really see who’s coming in as the entrance blocks you from really getting a good view of the cars coming through Turn 2. After getting some shots from the cars exiting 2 and entering the Fountain I moved dead center to see if my mediocre photography skills could be helped by the beautiful backdrop, it did. 

Even with my mediocre photography skills the backdrop of the Fountain makes for a great pic.

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