Will Power only shaves on Thursdays. It’s a superstition he’s held his entire life. And although he had a red carpet affair to clean up for, he wasn’t going to upend the ritual just days ahead of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
“So, I couldn’t shave today because it’s Wednesday,” the 42-year-old two-time Australian champion told the Long Beach Post on Wednesday evening from the red carpet of the premiere of The CW’s “100 Days to Indy.”
Josef Newgarden, who arrived in Long Beach on the heels of winning the series’ most recent event, PPG 375, said he doesn’t tether any superstitions or rituals to his performance.
“Not at all,” the 32-year-old from Nashville, Tennessee, said.
The two Team Penske drivers joined 21 other IndyCar competitors in front of the Long Beach Convention Center’s Terrace Theater as race fans cheered their arrivals one by one.
The drivers were followed closely in docuseries “100 Days to Indy” on their competitive journey to the largest single-day racing event in the world, the Indianapolis 500, which is just around the corner on May 28.
Marcus Ericsson, 32, won that race last year. Ericsson, of Sweden, told the Post he presses three times on his left wrist before he starts his engine to race.
“I said from early in my career to not have too much stuff like that because if you get it wrong, you’re gonna be like, in your head,” he said.
The new series is likely to catapult IndyCar drivers further into stardom, much like Netflix’s “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” did in 2019. Although they arrived on Wednesday to smile for the cameras, many of the drivers had the weekend on their minds, with the big race day coming up on Sunday.
“I have some unfinished business here in Long Beach,” Ericsson said. “I actually crashed out the last three times I’ve been here.”
Many of the returning drivers shared challenges they’ve faced in Long Beach’s unique “tight and twisty” street course, as Ericsson described it. Many drivers made remarks about the infamous hairpin turn and the fountain.
In 2014, Newgarden shared that he wrecked in turn three in the final pitstop.
“Something like that always sticks with you,” he said. “We had a chance to win the race, and it all ended in tears in turn four.”
Power says Long Beach has a fun flowing track but of course ,“it’s always dangerous as all get out,” he laughed.
“With that hairpin, everyone backs up, so it’s kind of ruined my last two or three qualifying sessions here,” he said. “So I’m very determined to have a clean qualifying try.”
“Actually, I broke my thumb here,” veteran racer Jack Harvey told the Post. He returns for his second season with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
Despite that incident and the season being a bit of a “mixed bag” for his team, Harvey is excited to return to Long Beach and to celebrate his 30th birthday after the race on Sunday. Until then, it’s “maximum focus,” he said.
For rookie Benjamin Pedersen, Sunday will mark his first time competing in Long Beach, but Pedersen said that is to his advantage.
“Because then you don’t have any bad habits, if you will, compared to guys that have been here many years,” he said.
For Katherine Legge, who will be competing for Gradient Racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar series, returning to Long Beach brings her back to her first victory when she competed in the city 18 years ago.
“It has a special place in my heart,” the British racer told the Post.
Also in tow for the event were TikTok stars Justin Ladner, Garett Casto, Zack Lugo, Trey Makai, model Brooklin Khoury and actress Chloe Lukasiak.
Fans of all ages gathered around the red carpet outside the east side of the theatre, where a “100 Days to Indy” show car was parked.
Colin Virgo is a Grand Prix fan who has been coming out to the Long Beach race circuit every year since 1975. He proudly showed up to watch the red carpet event bearing a checkered race flag on the side of his head. But it wasn’t a tattoo, he clarified, it was merely a design shaved and dyed by his barber. Nonetheless, he’s a die-hard fan and he’s looking forward to seeing one of his favorite racers garner a checkered flag, preferably Newgarden, he said.
“When I was a kid just getting out of high school, (the Grand Prix) was happening. This was the place to be,” he said.
“100 Days to Indy” will officially premiere on the CW Network on April 27.