10 Survival Tips for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach!
It’s funny the way life works out sometimes. When I was considering a move to Long Beach back in 2009 (how can that be 8 years ago now??), I was planning a visit to see my grandma in the area that April and stumbled upon an article mentioning that my favorite actor, Adrien Brody, would be in the Celebrity Pro Race at The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. I had to go, which I did, got my picture with him and returned to 4 more of the races (2 of which Adrien was in again, too)
During those adventures, I learned a thing or 2 about attending, and in-case you will be checking it out as well, here are some tips I wish someone had told me:
1) Take the Long Beach Red Bus.
Parking is a nightmare downtown, so is getting there. I used to pay 25 dollars to park my car til I realized the bus will literally drop you off in front of the entrance. I recommend finding street parking on Long Beach’s 4th Street/”Retro Row” and catching the bus to take you. Just check the street signs that it’s not a street sweeping morning, and avoid any market or store lots. You should be able to find a good spot on a side neighborhood street. It’s worth it.
2) If you’re looking for celebrities….
Their cars are parked at the fences just below the front entrance. When you enter the race from Ocean Ave, you will pass the Long Beach Performing Arts Center’s large fountain and head down stairs; there will be security guards and many fancy, souped up cars behind gates and that is where the celebs get in their car for the race. If they’re as cool as Adrien, they usually come over to the fences to sign autographs and chat.
(*Editor’s update: The Grand Prix no longer holds their Celebrity Races. While I am sure many celebrities do attend the race, they no longer can participate.)
3) If you want to try to touch them…
I have gotten pictures with Adrien when they exit the celebrity green room/entrance, which is upstairs just beyond the fountain. Hang there following the final race of the day for celebs, and that is where they leave. Keep in kind, they may be in a rush or tired or need to get going, but, if you’re persistent like me and friendly, I bet they will stop. I met Tony Hawk and his family up there, too–very cool guy!
(*Editor’s update: Unfortunately, I am not sure what they now have for this area as the celebrity race is a thing of the past.)
4) If you want to see the Saturday concert…
Line up early, it piles up quickly, and be ready for very ‘happy’, tipsy people 😉
5) There’s tons of ‘carnival’ style food to buy inside but…
There are so many awesome restaurants full of life and fun nearby in downtown, so I would get your hand stamped to come and go and check out somewhere on Pine Ave or take advantage of the fact that the restaurants near the aquarium are blocked in, so only race goers can access them, it’s always a great atmosphere. There’s Rock Bottom Brewery right across the street outside the race, and one year my friends and I grabbed grub and wine at Georges Greek Café on Pine (half off wine during happy hour!)
6) You’ll be in the sun all. day. long.
So be prepared and bring SPF! You can also take breaks inside the air-conditioned expo, loaded with fun booths and stands. You might even score some free samples of snacks. (Psst, there’s also usually a delish frozen yogurt stand at the Expo entrance, their fro yo is worth the 5 bucks!)
7) 2 words: EAR PLUGS!
The roaring cars is deafening, when I lived in Long Beach, I could hear it from my house. Protect yourself and wear ear plugs, make sure everyone in your party has ’em. I usually bring extra to save someone who didn’t realize how bad it is (translation: Me year one.)
8) If you’re in search of meeting and greeting the pro race drivers…
The lines for those meet and greets are INSANE. Line up very EARLY if you’re dying to meet someone. Make sure you don’t need a special badge or something, too–I know they close off the line after a certain amount of people.
9) They do a bag check, so pack accordingly…
Back packs are allowed, but they will thoroughly check for alcohol, drugs, etc.
10) Have FUN!
You’re right by the water in gorgeous downtown Long Beach, and everyone is there to have a blast. It’s the most exciting event in Long Beach.
Are you attending The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach? Have fun!