On the surface, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is a very successful annual event — considered by many to be the second-most important open-wheel race in the country — that benefits the city in many ways, financially and in world-wide prestige.
But behind the scenes, one of the founders of the race has been working to bring back Formula 1 racing and return as the man in charge. It’s been a fairly quiet ongoing issue for the last three years but a report commissioned by the city has put the event’s future in the spotlight.
Chris Pook had a vision for the city and created a race through the streets in 1975 and featured F1 from 1976 through 1983. It became too expensive and American open-wheel racing, first CART followed by IndyCar, stepped in and never missed a beat.
In 2003, Pook resigned from the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, leaving Jim Michaelian in charge. But 10 years later, Pook teamed with F1’s Bernie Ecclestone in an effort to bring three F1 races to the United States, including Long Beach.
In late 2016, Long Beach sought requests for proposals seeking “an open-wheel auto racing format.” It was basically between Michaelian and Pook, and a $150,000 report by the accounting firm of KPMG made public this week heavily favored Michaelian’s proposal.
The report noted Michaelian’s group had “the best proposal in fully demonstrating the ability to deliver a race and providing the breadth of information required to financial stability, race implementation, marketing plan, minimizing negative impacts and conformance with the terms of the request for proposal.”
As expected, Michaelian was encouraged by the council’s decision.
“We’re very delighted to have been identified by the City’s Selection Committee as the most qualified firm to continue promoting and operating the annual Toyota Grand Prix,” Michaelian said. “This is the first but important step in the continuation of…