The replica car greets visitors in the Palm court. Photos by Jason Ruiz.
Long Beach Airport is revving up for the 39th installment of the Grand Prix of Long Beach by rolling a replica Dallara DW12 Indy Car into its recently renovated concourse.
The open-wheeled racer was transported to the airport from Downtown on a flatbed truck, and after passing a security inspection, was rolled past unsuspecting travelers on Saturday before it reached its resting place in the Palm Court, just past the Transportation Security Administration security stop. Public affairs officer Kerry Gerot, who worked with Grand Prix organizers to get the car to the airport, said that having the car on display is mutually beneficial for both race organizers and the airport.
“We just opened a new concourse four months ago and I thought, ‘Why not put the two together?’” Gerot said. “We’d love to have an Indy Car in the concourse in order to welcome all the Grand Prix visitors and tourists that come into town for this fabulous event."
The car will be on display at the concourse until Tuesday before it will be picked up by the Grand Prix Association so it can visit local schools leading up to the race. There, drivers will be present to help explain details of the race and how the cars work. Until then, travelers flying in and out of Long Beach will get to view a shiny replica of what will be zipping along Shoreline Ave. this weekend. Jim Michaelian, President and CEO of the Grand Prix Association said the presence of the show car will be powerful.
The car getting delivered on a flatbed truck.
“I think its going to send an immediate statement to all who view it, whether it be the young or the old, that there’s an event happening in town,” Michaelian said. “If we didn’t have something that indicated that there was a big event going on, you lose a little bit of the spirit here and this is really what this is all about. What better statement than to have a car like this on display?”
The display is something that both parties had been interested in for a few years but wasn’t made possible until the airport upgraded their facilities, providing a safe place to display their car. Both the airport and race organizers agree that this is less about promoting the race and more about promoting the growth and improvements of the city as a whole.
“Just watching the reaction of people as they’re walking by and looking and watching their reaction to the fact there’s a full-on replica racecar sitting in the airport at Long Beach is indicative of the interest level," Michaelian said. “It’s more of a statement of what this city and the airport and the grand prix and its citizenry are trying to achieve by hosting an event like this rather than trying to sell a few more tickets."