To quote a famous line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, “I’m not dead yet.” That would be the battle cry from the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, because the second most important race on the IndyCar calender is still fighting to stay alive in 2020.
On a day when IndyCar announced it would not be running St. Petersburg and its April races at Barber, Long Beach and Circuit of The Americas were scratched, Long Beach Grand Prix Association president and CEO Jim Michaelian was meeting with city officials to see if he could rescue the iconic street race with an alternative date.
“We’re not canceled, we’re postponed and I’m heading for a meeting right now to see if we can find a date that works,” said Michaelian, who began working on Long Beach when it started in 1975 and has operated it the past 30 years. “I’ve got to get the convention center before I can do anything but we’re making every effort to see about the possibility of rescheduling the race sometime in the fall.
“Ideally it would be when both series (IndyCar and IMSA) are out here for Laguna Seca (in September). It’s not going to be easy to put Humpy Dumpy back together but I can assure you we are trying.”
The second-longest running race on the IndyCar schedule pretty much reshaped and reinvigorated downtown Long Beach during the past four decades but there is a lot more at stake than civic pride.
“The weekend puts $33 million into the local economy and $700,000 in tax revenue and there is a real need to try and make it happen since so many conventions have already been canceled here,” continued Michaelian. “The city has indicated they’re more than willing to work with us to try and find an alternative date and they want to assist us in terms of permits and getting this thing reconvened.
“It’s not going to be easy but it’s great to have their support.”
Indy cars and IMSA sports cars were to have shared the April 17-19 weekend and now everything has to be dismantled.
“All the grandstands and bridges were up, plus a lot of the barriers, so we were well along in terms of preparation for the race,” said Michaelian, whose contract allows 54 days of preparation before the event and 21 days afterward to take it down. “The financial impact is significant but there’s nothing we can do about it except try and bring it back in the fall. If it doesn’t work, we’ll come back April 16-18, 2021.
“Everyone is suffering — hotels, restaurants, catering — and it’s a tough time so it would be great if we can save it.”