The Grand Prix Association of Long Beach announced Thursday (Dec. 17) that the 2021 Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend has been postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The race weekend, originally scheduled for April 16-18, has been moved to Sept. 24-26. As a result, the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach will now serve as the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series season finale.
The rescheduled weekend will still include all of the series originally confirmed to compete in April. In addition to the NTT IndyCar Series, that includes the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Stadium Super Trucks, Super Drift Challenge and Historic Formula Atlantic Challenge.
“We are very grateful to all of our fans, sponsors and exhibitors for their extraordinary loyalty and support over the past year,” said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. “We want all of our attendees to fully experience all of the joy and excitement of the event in a safe and welcoming environment and we believe that this move to a fall date will afford us that opportunity. We want to thank all those who were of assistance in facilitating this rescheduling and we look forward to welcoming everyone back to the streets of Long Beach in September.”
Traditionally, the Grand Prix of Long Beach has been a spring race weekend. The sole exception to this was the first Grand Prix of Long Beach for Formula 5000 cars (open-wheeled racers with 5.0-liter Chevrolet V8 engines), which was held in late September of 1975.
When the race became of the U.S. Grand Prix West in 1976, the race moved to the last weekend of March. The Grand Prix weekend moved back and forth between March and early April during the time it was part of the World Championship. The race has always run in April since it joined the CART schedule in 1984.
Ticket sales for the 2021 Long Beach weekend had not yet begun. The GPALB plans to begin those sales at some point towards the middle of 2021. Fans who had bought tickets for the 2020 Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend that was cancelled and chose to put their money towards 2021 will get first priority.
Unfortunately, such schedule shifts can also cause a snowball effect. In INDYCAR, not so much as of this writing. However, the Long Beach was the first part of a two-race West Coast Swing for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship along with a sprint race at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
Both of those race weekends will now be in September. The Laguna Seca weekend, originally scheduled for the first weekend of May, will now be Sept. 10-12. That race will be contested by the DPi, LMP2, GT Le Mans and GT Daytona classes. It will also mean that WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca will host major series on back-to-back weekends as the NTT IndyCar Series is currently scheduled to race at the 2.238-mile road course the weekend of Sept. 17-19.
Long Beach will be for DPi, GT Le Mans and GT Daytona teams. For GT Daytona teams, it will be the first time the class will race at Long Beach since 2017. There will be a hard cap on entries at 35 due to limited paddock space.