The Long Beach Grand Prix has moved its 2021 event from mid-April to late September. As RACER wrote last week, an alternate date of September 25-26 was floated to the NTT IndyCar Series and IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which has now been agreed upon as the new weekend to host both championships.
To accommodate the date change, IMSA has made a number of modifications to its calendar. For IndyCar, the change involves adding one week to its schedule, and shifting the site of its final race from WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on September 18-19 to Long Beach the following weekend. It will make the second consecutive season where the road course in Monterey was originally listed as the last race of the year, only to have the honor move to another venue.
With Long Beach in its new calendar position, IndyCar teams will close the championship on an extended West Coast championship swing that starts at Portland on Sept. 11-12, continues to Laguna Seca on Sept. 18-19, and ends on the Southern Californian street course Sept. 25-26.
“It is important to have Long Beach rescheduled to continue the history and tradition for one of the series’ hallmark events in one of the nation’s premier media markets,” Penske Entertainment Corp. President and CEO Mark Miles said. “Further, it’s a tremendous opportunity to wrap up the season with three straight iconic venues for what we believe will be our most exciting season yet. As we did during the 2020 season, we will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and maintain flexibility across our schedule. We are committed to an action-packed and exhilarating 2021 NTT IndyCar Series.”
Under IMSA’s original schedule, its appearance at the April 17-18 Long Beach event would have been followed by a drive north to for an endurance race at Monterey on April 24-25. Behind the scenes, IMSA entrants were told they would only be asked to make a single trip to California, and in light of the Long Beach date change, IMSA’s visit to Monterey has been shifted to Sept. 11-12.
It’s believed WeatherTech Championship teams will remain in the state and make use of the extra time to prepare their cars and convalesce before loading into Long Beach.
“The West Coast audience is extremely valuable to all of our stakeholders, and this necessary shift provides the best opportunity to serve our many IMSA race fans in California,” said IMSA President John Doonan. “Likewise, it is important to our WeatherTech Championship teams to have both California races back to back on the schedule. We’re grateful to our partners at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach and all involved for their flexibility.”
By delaying the Grand Prix until September, the event organizers hope to have full attendance at the iconic seaside venue. With the onrush of COVID-19 in early 2020, the Long Beach was cancelled for the first time in its history.