Today is a great day in the City of Long Beach: It’s Grand Prix Day!
The 40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is one of the most anticipated event weekends on the Long Beach calendar. Race fans from all over the world descend here to take in IndyCar Racing through our city’s streets. Yes, the race takes place on the streets themselves, which is pretty darn cool. You can go here for a map of the course.
We can hear the cars from inside of our house, which is a good three miles away from the course. In two words, it’s loud. It’s so loud in fact that we choose not to take T down there just yet. We don’t think it’s good for his six-year-old ears, or for his young eyes for that matter. All I really remember from my first and only outing to the race course about 10 years ago is that people who go tend to drink a lot of $10 Tecate beers (C and I have our hands up here also, mind you) in the hot, hot sun, and the young kids who I did see were sitting by their parents sucking on the limes after the beers were drained (true story). Add in tickets, food, and other event costs and you now have a day that could rival that of the cost of a family day out at a local theme park. Since we know which outing of the two T would enjoy better at age six, instead we’ll crack a few cold drinks at home and take in the race on TV all while we hear the free ambient race noise outside… and all while T plays with his newly built Millennium Falcon.
But there are a few other Grand Prix event options happening all over town that are free and far, far away from the noise and the crowds that are especially good for those of you with younger kids. One is happening at the Firestone Complete Auto Care service store at the corner of Cherry Avenue and Spring Street today through 4 p.m. Staff from the Firestone racing team (we met people who have actually worked the pits at races all over the world) are set up on the corner at the service center with a model Dallara DW12 on display that they’re letting kids sit inside of for photo opps; there’s also a race simulator game set up for all-ages to take a spin around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. They’re also giving away some free swag (sunglasses, coloring books, things like that) just for stopping by.
We went Friday after school, and T (and C) had a blast. I thought we might only stay 10 minutes or so, but the boys were pretty enthralled with all the free fun that before we knew it about a half-hour breezed by. It helped that there wasn’t anyone else there for the first 20 or so minutes, which meant no waiting for the car or the simulator. T got to drive the simulator about six times and C drove about three. C also chatted up the pit crew, whom he said were pretty interesting guys for anyone looking to learn more about racing from the pit perspective.
The events at the Firestone service store are all free, so if you’re in the area today (Sunday April 13), stop by and go racing, RMT’ers!
Firestone Complete Auto Care is at 3000 Cherry Ave., Long Beach, CA, 90807, on the Northeast corner of Cherry Avenue and Spring Street at the border of Long Beach-Signal Hill. Look for their sign pictured above if you’re at the intersection and you can’t miss it. I called the store this morning and the staff member on the phone told me the crew should be set up today until around 4 p.m., but if you want to call before heading over their phone number is 562 453 0513. Just as this is the last day of Grand Prix weekend, this is the last day of their display and events.