Grand Prix
Acura Grand Prix Of Long Beach Column COVID-19 Racing

COLUMN: Missing The Long Beach Grand Prix

This is where 2020 Acura Grand Prix Of Long Beach coverage should’ve been.

I should still be nursing a sunburn and wiping tire smoke from my eyes after a weekend on the downtown street course. Now I’m not even supposed to touch my face and desperately need a day out in the sun.

I had no idea I’d miss the Grand Prix this much.

My good friend and colleague Ryan ZumMallen introduced me to the Grand Prix when he wrote about sneaking into the races in the Union Weekly school newspaper. I was never into cars or racing, but he made it sound fun — and dangerous.

ZumMallen took me to my first Grand Prix, which was a predictable Sebastien Bourdais victory in the CART Series. I was unimpressed. To me the whole thing felt like an insipid gathering for niche sports fans.

I was wrong.

The second year changed everything. I got a chance to shotgun in a Porsche 911 as part of media day privileges, and going almost 200 MPH down the straight-away gave me a unique appreciation for the sport. I can vividly remember my legs shaking when I got out of the car. It was awesome.

Obviously, I threw myself headfirst into the coverage that year with pit crew interviews and video of everything, including the Lifestyle Expo. The weekend finished with another Sebastien Bourdais parade, but seeing how stunningly impressive Long Beach looked on television made everything click in my head.

The Grand Prix is a giant party hosted by one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Of course, parties can be exhausting and a weekend at the Grand Prix isn’t complete without sore muscles and fried brains. Once the cars start practicing Friday morning, it’s nonstop action for three days. There’s no time to celebrate the completion of one story, because there’s already another one to chase.

Damn, I really miss it. And I hope I’m not the only one.

It’s been increasingly difficult to find any silver lining lately, but absence does make the heart grow fonder, and I hope that fondness leads to more support and attention paid to our city sporting events.

High school and college sports keep me and Mike busy enough, but there’s also a bevy of other elite sporting events in Long Beach every year. If you go to Belmont Pier to see Congressional Cup sailing, you’re watching some of the best skippers in the world compete. The same can be said for Dew Tour skateboarding downtown or sumo wrestling championships at Walter Pyramid — the best in the world compete in the International City all the time.

When things get back to normal, I hope the citizens of Long Beach show how much they care about this city by showing up and supporting these events.

Bigger crowds and great atmosphere will only make Long Beach a more attractive place to host elite events in the future, like the 2028 Summer Olympics. These things are part of the fabric and financial stability of this city.

In terms of dollars and cents, Beacon Economics reported that the 2017 Grand Prix brought in $32.4 million for the Long Beach economy. That is almost irreplaceable.

If we, the citizens of Long Beach, want to help our city recover, we need to be cheerleaders for events like the Grand Prix. This race has been in Long Beach since 1975, and when it comes back I hope it’s bigger and better than ever.

JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.