POP CULTURESPORTSIndyCar: What Attending the Grand Prix of Long Beach is like, First-Hand Experience

The alarm went off at 6:07 a.m. and unlike most of my mornings, I jumped out of the bed without any hesitation. The four hours of sleep were unnoticeable as the excitement of what was to come rushed through my veins. After a cup of coffee and a speedy hotel breakfast, my brother and I got into his car where the GPS marked 33 minutes to the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. Paddock Access...
Xiomara Villarreal-Gerardo4 weeks ago1588 min
http://www.jeawok.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/A81E6942-302A-495E-BF08-5539716D2AD4.jpeg

The alarm went off at 6:07 a.m. and unlike most of my mornings, I jumped out of the bed without any hesitation. The four hours of sleep were unnoticeable as the excitement of what was to come rushed through my veins.

After a cup of coffee and a speedy hotel breakfast, my brother and I got into his car where the GPS marked 33 minutes to the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Paddock Access

First and foremost, buying paddock access was extremely worth it.

What is the paddock? In comparison to football, basketball, or soccer, the paddock is like the locker room. During a Grand Prix weekend, the cars are located at the paddock whenever they are not out on the race circuit for sessions.

This is where all of the backstage action takes place and it is a hive of activity. For the weekend, race teams and drivers use this space as their “office.”  While team engineers meticulously alter the cars between racing sessions and pay attention to every small tweak they can do to improve the cars’ performance, team meetings are held for strategy and review performance.

As soon as we entered the event, we went straight to the paddock with the hopes of catching them before most cars went out for the warm-up session. Side note, our walk from the entrance to the paddock was relatively long.

Luckily for us, most cars were still in their tents. We walked around and felt like kids at a candy store. The first car that we saw was No. 11, aka Tatiana Calderon’s ROKiT Chevrolet for AJ Foyt Racing.

Then, witnessed seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson’s car come out of the tent and make its way onto the track.

Photo creds: Xiomara Villarreal-Gerardo

On our way out of the paddock, we spotted 2021 IndyCar Series champion Álex Palou inside the Chip Ganassi Racing tent. We called out his name, waved, and said, “Alex, good luck! Supporting you from San Diego.” He kindly waved back and replied, “thank you,” with a smile.

IndyCar Race: Green Flag

With our earplugs on and our ice-cold lemonade in hand, we were more than prepared for the race to commence.

Photo creds: Xiomara Villarreal-Gerardo

The 2021 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach winner Colton Herta was set to start at pole position with the goal of taking victory again this year. The Californian wonder-kid had a great start and led the first 28 laps.

Then, the crowd went crazy when it all went south for Herta. On lap 57, he had a big brake lock and bumped into the wall causing his car to be out of the race.

The last six laps of the race were intense as Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden and Andretti Autosport’s Romain Grosjean fought for the first position with Palou behind them.

With just two laps remaining, Dale Coyne Racing’s Takuma Sato found himself smashed into the wall causing a white flag.

As the race came to an end, the checkered flag was waved as Newgarden secured the win with Grosjean in second and Palou in third.

https://www.indycar.com/Results 

Meeting Pato O’Ward

The day was amazing, to say the least. Yet, the greatest moment was meeting Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’ward and getting merchandise signed by him.

We were walking around the paddock and stopped by the Arrow McLaren tent to watch O’ward’s car. As we were admiring the car, I looked up and saw O’ward walking inside the tent.

Some of O’ward’s fans began to gather around and wait for him to finish speaking to his team. O’ward then approached us and greeted each of us.

Photo creds: @SirTatoProds

Instantly after the race, the gates of the track opened. We rapidly entered the track and walked around, which was an awesome experience.

O’ward was being interviewed a few feet away from where we were. Earlier, we had bought some of his merchandise and were hoping to get the chance for him to sign them.

Fortunately for us, we were able to be the last ones to get his attention before being escorted out of the track.

Xiomara Villarreal-Gerardo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *