Long Beach Diary:|
We're Not In Kansas Anymore
Long Beach, CA, April 14 — In its many incarnations, from F5000 to F1 to Champ Cars,
the Long Beach Grand Prix has always featured beautiful scenery and on occasion, some really
exciting racing. Where it has been changing the most is in its treatment of its fans, and this
year is no exception.
When most fans imagine going to a race, they inevitably think of motor homes. I used to love
entering the event area every year and walk through the sea of motor homes we called the Robby
Gordon Fan Club. By 1998, the Club was gone, replaced by some very sterile looking corporate
motor homes. Last year, no motor homes were in evidence at all. The rude, crude, and drunken
revelers, God bless them, have been replaced by corporate comps.
Most of us race fans can spot a corporate comp a mile away. For one thing, they tend to dress
funny. They always leave right after the feature race. I could go on, but I won’t. I see way
too many of these people at Long Beach, and I’ll see them all weekend.
What all of us – comps and fans who actually paid for their tickets – saw was a newly
reconfigured street course. From the looks of it, it’s pretty nice. Unfortunately, it’s very
inconvenient for fans to get in and out of. There are many bridges but lots of dead ends. My
husband and I walked well over two miles to exit the track this evening, and we were worried, as
the one means of exit for handicapped fans – a single elevator - was not working. We had observed
several people in wheelchairs who might unfortunately still be there.
So, at Long Beach, race fans are treated rather like poor relations. Often loved, but very
badly treated and frequently not considered in making decisions that effect them. The denizens of
Dover Downs have effectuated their takeover of this event and it shows where it counts, in the
full porta-potties, in the track not being ready this morning for Formula Atlantics practice, in
being hassled for bringing our own canned soft drinks, in hyping a CART Fan Appreciation Event
in the program but never telling the fans where it is to take place. I could go on, but I
I go to the Grand Prix, despite being treated poorly, because it’s about a half-hour from our
house and features some fantastic racing talent.
Following are my notes from today:
Biggest Surprise of the Day: Seeing a blue Players' car and having momentary delusions
that Greg Moore really isn’t dead. Sitting there misty eyed for a few minutes as I got a grip on
Second Biggest Surprise of the Day: How strong Bryan Herta looked in Shinji Nakano’s
car. He was totally awesome today, and we in grandstand 34 were surprised he didn’t take the
provisional pole. And this is in a ride he got temporarily – this week!
Comeback Trail: Both Kool cars were very quick and ran at the front of the pack. Kanaan,
last year’s polesitter, was also very fast today.
Fading Fast: Juan Montoya and Team Ganassi. I take nothing away from Juan’s talent, but
he just doesn’t have the package this year. The TG driver who looks strong in 2000 is – Jimmy
Vasser? And what’s up with the Newman Haas guys? They have the right package, they have the
talent, but they’re not up front.
A Star is Born: Jason Bright, the new Indy Lights driver, looks like a force to be
The Friendliest Paddock: Continues to be the Trans-AM series’. I dare you to take a
slow walk through and not encounter Lou Gigliotti. Go ahead.
Copyright © 2000 by Lisa Davidson and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.