Long Beach notebook: Rahal gets early win to start race weekend

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LONG BEACH, Calif. – Graham Rahal’s weekend at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach got off to a victorious start when his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing crew won the pit stop competition Thursday in the annual Thunder on Pine fan event in downtown Long Beach.

The fan activity included performances by the Monster Energy freestyle MX team and the Firestone Firehawk tossing T-shirts and hats to the crowd numbering in the thousands.

Rahal and his No. 15 Honda squared off in the pit stop competition against the No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet crew. Normally driven by Josef Newgarden, team owner/driver Ed Carpenter substituted in the cockpit while Newgarden attended a sponsor event.

Each car had two opportunities to clock its best time changing four tires. Rahal’s crew logged a lightning-quick stop in 5.83 seconds, compared to 7.29 for the Carpenter crew. Rahal was quick to compliment his crew for the victory.

“Give this crew a round of applause,” he said to the appreciative crowd after the win. “They’re the ones who make it happen. I want to thank all of the fans here for coming out tonight. What makes this event so much fun for us is the fans.”

Grand Prix of Boston signs key agreements with city and state

The Grand Prix of Boston powered by LogMeIn announced Thursday it has signed and executed license agreements and a memorandum of understanding with the appropriate city of Boston and state of Massachusetts agencies, completing another major step for establishing the Verizon IndyCar Series race to run in the South Boston Waterfront neighborhood this Labor Day weekend.

The agreements signed by the city, Massachusetts Department of Transportation, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, and the memo of understanding signed by the Massachusetts Port Authority, include many conditions and protections with guarantees that:

“Today’s result is the culmination of a lot of hard work, coordination and leadership from all of the agencies involved and we would like to thank Gov. (Charlie) Baker’s office, Mayor (Marty) Walsh’s office and all of the city and state agencies and people who worked hard to get this done, with a high level of collaboration,” said John Casey, president of the Grand Prix of Boston. “We have gotten tremendous feedback from major sponsors, from race fans and soon-to-be race fans. There's a lot of excitement and anticipation of seeing the elite drivers race through the streets of Boston. We are confident that this race will add to our city's entertainment and tourism offerings." 

The Grand Prix of Boston will continue to work closely with city and state agencies on other aspects of the race, including the road improvement and traffic management plan, a transportation plan and the safety and security plan. The organization will also continue to hold public monthly forums, community meetings and coordinated outreach in the coming months leading up the race.

For more information on the event, the penultimate race of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season scheduled Sept. 2-4, visit indycarboston.com.

Pro Bowler Owens enjoys thrill ride with Mario Andretti

NFL Pro Bowler Terrell Owens stepped out of the INDYCAR Experience two-seater today, calling his thrill ride around the Long Beach circuit with Mario Andretti at the wheel “a roller-coaster ride.”

Terrell OwensBack when he was playing for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2010, Owens took a similar ride around the Kentucky Speedway 1.5-mile oval. But the experience on the street circuit at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach was different … much different.

“I don’t remember it being this awesome,” Owens said. “Maybe it was because I was riding with Mario Andretti, the legend, but this was like the equivalent of a roller-coaster ride. This is much more fun.”

During the high-speed ride, Owens even considered all the waivers he had signed in advance of the ride.

“I got in and I was like, ‘So this is probably why I was signing all this stuff.’ I think I signed my life away,” he said.  “It’s unfathomable how fast we were going. It was an awesome ride. You talk about an adrenaline rush, that was it.”

Owens spent the day at the track, reporting from the grand prix for the Rich Eisen Show. He taped a segment to air at 10 a.m. PT April 18 (on DirecTV) and spent time with Chip Ganassi Racing driver and Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan.

Daly feels like experienced driver at Long Beach

Conor Daly feels like a veteran for this weekend’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, especially compared to a year ago.

In 2015, Daly started the Long Beach weekend as a spectator. He was summoned into action midway through the weekend when Dale Coyne Racing driver Rocky Moran Jr. sustained a thumb injury on the first day of practice.

Daly, the 24-year-old son of former Indy car and Formula One driver Derek Daly, jumped into the car, qualified 21st and drove to a 17th-place race finish in his first temporary street course race in the Verizon IndyCar Series. The performance laid the groundwork for Daly earning a full-season ride in Coyne’s No. 18 Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality Honda for 2016 and he was 15th fastest in today’s practice.

“I finally feel like it’s a race I’m more prepared for,” Daly said. “I’m excited that we got to first bond as a team there last year and that now we get to come back and give it another shot.”

RRDC honors Follmer, Indy car winner at Phoenix in 1969

Road racing great George Follmer was honored by the Road Racing Drivers Club at its eighth annual dinner Thursday night at the Long Beach Hilton.

Follmer, who won championships in Trans Am and Can Am racing and scored a podium as a rookie in Formula One, was a three-time Indianapolis 500 starter, who claimed his only Indy car win at Phoenix in March 1969.

“They didn't know how I did it,” Follmer said. “People thought it was a fluke, but I was on the front row next to a guy named (Al) Unser, who drove for (Parnelli) Jones. The stock-block V-8 ran like a clock and we worked with the chassis the whole time. It was a major thing (to win) but I didn't have the opportunity to continue in Indy car (with a bigger team). I won an Indy car race and it's the only one with a stock-block V-8 and showed I could run ovals.”


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