Welcome to Long Beach: The West Coast spin on the happening that is the IndyCar Series

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An overview of the Fan Zone at the Long Beach Grand Prix. -- Photo by Scott James, @sjamesphoto
An overview of the Fan Zone at the Long Beach Grand Prix. -- Photo by Scott James, @sjamesphoto

Editor’s Note: Scott James is a motorsport and surf photographer in San Diego, CA. He brings his talent and expertise to The Parc Fermé this season as our Man on the Left Coast. Throughout the season, we will share his insights and images specifically on the IndyCar series. In his first article, he shares with us the experience that is the Long Beach Grand Prix. The details of the racing action from last weekend can be found many places, including here in articles and in our TPF indi podcast, but those writings and musings never do get at the heart of what the experience of the event is like. To see more of Scott’s amazing work, give him a follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


By SCOTT JAMES

LONG BEACH, CA — With record crowds this year (an estimated 180,000 people for the three day event), this is THE spot to put on your bucket list of races to attend and Indy car event in my opinion. Being a So. Cal resident my opinion MAY be slightly slanted, but if you like cars made to go fast, food, a Convention Center packed with things to keep the kids busy and engaged, then adding the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on your list of To Do items will not leave you with any empty feelings of wishing there was more. Well…there can always be more. But as my Grandfather use to say, It’s near impossible to stuff more than 5 lbs of stuff into a 2 lb sack. He said it more colorful. But I always got the gist of that.

Finding the Light

Fans enjoying the displays in the Convention Center. -- Photo by Scott James, @sjamesphoto
Fans enjoying the displays in the Convention Center. — Photo by Scott James, @sjamesphoto

As a photographer, it’s an absolute awesome track to shoot. Light plays into your thinking quite a bit, as does the back to back to back action on the track by all the different series out there. You have Indy Cars (My fav), IMSA, WPC, Vintage Can/Am, Stadium Trucks, Pace and IndyCar Two Seater rides as well as Formula Drift.

To cover it all, as a photographer, it’s a lot like having two kids playing in in multiple sports…at the same time…and making sure you pick the right one up at the right time, on the right day. There’s always something going on. *See attached shooting schedule. The Fan Zone alone in the Convention Center is filled to capacity with everything from autograph signings for all the series to every vendor imaginable with race and interactive exhibits geared around giving something for just about everyone to enjoy. I’ve had the privilege to be a credentialed photographer for many different racing events, but the TGPLB I would put in a whole other class. More of a happening. That’s not meant as any slight to any of the other races in the Indycar Series. But this year, with record attendance and next to perfect weather conditions, the crowds and enthusiasm made for a great weekend.

The Food

Oh…and did I mention the food?

Tacos at the Long Beach Grand Prix
Track food differs from venue to venue and there’s always something unique. At Long Beach, the tacos are a must try item. — Photo by Scott James, @sjamesphoto

We’ve got Street Tacos (The CA version of the manhole size Tenderloins in Indy…just smaller, and tastier), we’ve got Jumbo Turkey legs to walk around eating like a King, buckets of fries with whatever you want them topped with, and restaurants a plenty within walking distance around the track to have an adult beverage or two after the day ends. But have no fear, if you want one of those beverages AT the track, there’s plenty of those to be had as well. Just NOT if you’re wearing a photo vest and have the credentials. THAT, would not be prudent. And last, but not in the least is my go to meal between sessions…Bacon wrapped jumbo dogs with grilled jalapenos and onions. Because, that’s just how I roll. And they are a thing of beauty. Cardiologist approved? Maybe not. But eating a salad at such a happening doubtful would provide the protein needed to schlep around 40 lbs of camera equipment around for three days. So I had that going for me…which was nice.

A special thank you to Doug Patterson and the people at THEPARCFERME.COM for bringing me along for the ride.

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