Long Beach edition

April 5, 2018

Long Beach edition

April 5, 2018

Ever wonder what the discussion is really like between a couple of veteran racing colleagues going into a race weekend?

“Splash & Go” attempts to find out, and eavesdrops on a pair of insiders’ thoughts heading into the BUBBA Burger SportsCar Grand Prix at Long Beach, Round 3 of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season…

Well we are headed for Long Beach, and you know what that means?

Sunshine! Sushi! Tacos!

And an early wake up on Friday…

The IMSA WeatherTech cars are the world’s most expensive street sweepers. It’s kind of amazing to see millions of dollars of high tech race cars cleaning the streets.

Yeah, the WeatherTech Championship cars are the first cars on track Friday morning at 7:40, so the first few laps are pretty hilarious with dust clouds everywhere.

It looks like a downtown dustbowl for the first few laps.

It’s kind of nice to be able to walk to and from the hotel to the track.

Yes, but I’m doing my own BoBP.

Surely, you mean BoP, like Balance of Performance?

No, BoBP. As in Balance of Back Pack.

Since the WeatherTech race here is only 100 minutes long, there is no need to carry all the stuff needed at the Rolex 24 at Daytona or the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

So, no winter coat, gloves, extra batteries, books of data and records… just sunglasses and sunscreen?

Yup. And my Ron Burgundy reporter’s notebooks.

Those would be better in San Diego…

Long Beach is as close as we get on the IMSA schedule.

There’s lots of memories in Long Beach. It’s a tough race to win.

There are lots of strategies. The Michelin engineers reminded me that teams have won it by doing the full race on one set of tires and that it’s been won by pitting early and by pitting late.

Most GTLM teams make just one pit stop, so timing that right and getting the right break on any cautions is a big deal.

Teams really have to roll the dice.

Dan Binks of Corvette Racing says that from a race strategy standpoint, it’s like playing Russian roulette.

He would know. Last year, his driver, Antonio Garcia, had the race won heading into the last turn. The track was blocked and they ended up fifth.

Their teammates Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner ended up winning, and they were in compete surprise that they had won when Milner got out of the car.

So who is your early pick for the GTLM win?

It’s wide open. Corvette is the defending race champ. The Ford GTs were dominant at Daytona and the Porsches look and sound great and won Sebring.

BMW has the new M8 and won the pole and set fastest race lap at Sebring. Bill Auberlen, our official BMW beach boy, is a BMW ambassador now, so he will of course host the pre and post-race parties.

His co-driver last year, Alexander Sims, is quick.

He is, but what was the deal with that mustache he showed up with at Daytona? It almost stole the show before the race.

I think he lost a bet or something. In the history of British drivers, even Nigel Mansell had a better mustache than that.

Graham Hill’s mustache it is not. Maybe that’s why at Sebring, it grew into a full beard. 

Who has the advantage?

Three of the teams, Penske, Ganassi and Rahal, are doing double duty this weekend. They are entered in both the IMSA race and the IndyCar race, but with different manufacturers.

How does that help?

The track typically changes during the course of the weekend and between the two series they will have cars on track at different times of day.

So, if Penske or Ganassi or Rahal wins both, they will have not only swept the track on Friday, but cleaned up every day.

That’s enough. No more tacos for you.

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