Long Beach GP Fans Guide!
The Bars, Party Scene, Concerts & All The Fun
Free concerts are part of the entertainment on Fridays and Saturdays.
Photo: Jack Fleming
We're never ones to pass up a good party.
Each April, people in Southern California are rewarded with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the perfect combination of major sporting event and giant outdoor cocktail party.
The Grand Prix is the unofficial beginning of Springtime in Southern California, and more than 200,000 people rip through the turnstiles for three days of speed and socializing.
There are stars in the crowd – celebrities from Hollywood, famous sports figures and rock band members – and on the track. Dario Franchitti and Helio Castroneves (who likes to climb fences after he wins) are among the past participants as part of the featured Indy Car It is truly the Grand Prix of Monaco of the United States.
The bars like the Yard House are fun places to party during the Grand Prix.
There is also a Pro/Celebrity race which has had Captain Kirk, Donny Osmond and Cameron Diaz driving against other actors, actresses and athletes. Captain Kirk found it an adventure that was far more difficult than guiding the Enterprise to bold new worlds.
The Miss Grand Prix contest takes place Thursday on Pine Ave.
The Prime Party Places
The party starts each afternoon as hundreds of race fans get fueled up on the type of "methanol" served at The Yard House, a harborside indoor/outdoor bar.
At the track, fans congregate at the "Unofficial Gathering Spot," the King Taco at the entrance to the paddock. From there, they can go to the Convention Center for the Expo and bars and souvenir stands.
During the day, a Marichi band plays at a bar on the Promenade.
The Promenade has a fun outdoor bar with a Marichi band and leads to "the Birdcage," steps which put fans on the other side of the track.
For those with seats (General Admission tickets are not reserved seats), a favorite spot is in sections 27 and 28, from where they can holler across the track to harass long-time PA announcer Bruce Flanders.
The Yard House is always fun but there are other many other bar s, too.
Good bars to hit include inside the Hyatt, the Yard House in Shoreline Village and the Mai Tai bar at the top of the rollercoaster bridge above Turn 1.
At the end of the day there are free concerts on Friday and Saturday and plenty of bars and restaurants along lower and upper Pine Ave. PubClub.com favorites are the Auld Dubliner and Rock Bottom Brewery.
Best Viewing Spots
Those with Grandstand seats have the luxury of going to the seats during the races and wandering around between events.
Grandstands 27-31 are along Shoreline Drive at the start-finish line, while 24 and 25 are at the "hairpin," a 180-degree turn going onto Shoreline, and this is where a lot of wrecks and pileups occur. Another great spot are the grandstands at Turn 1, 5, 6 and 36 and 40.
General Admission tickets are advised to hang out on the Promenade where you can see the cars roaring down Pine Ave., on a short chute between Shoreline and the back straight on Seaside Way. GA tickets also provide access to the Expo in the Convention Center, and the always-packed and lively walkway around the paddock.
Beer, food and souvenir stands are plentiful in all areas.
Ticket prices are as follows:
• GA $26 (Friday), $44 (Saturday), $54 (Sunday), $70 (3-day)
• Grandstands: $60 (Saturday), $80 (Sunday)
• 3-day Grandstand: $88-130
• Paddock Pass: $25 (per day), $60 (3-day)
Tickets: 888-82-SPEED. Website: gplb.com.