Frank Zavala moves a concrete block into place along Shoreline Drive on Monday morning. The first concrete blocks that make up the race track for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach were set in place along Shoreline Drive on Monday, February 18, 2019.
Photo by Bill Alkofer.

The first concrete blocks of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach race circuit were set into place Monday morning in Downtown, marking the start of construction leading up to the April 12 – 14 race weekend.

The Grand Prix’s “city within a city,” to be built over the next seven weeks, will include debris fencing, grandstand seating, power, telephone lines and amenities for the more than 185,000 people expected to attend.

The concrete blocks, which weigh 9,000 pounds each, were lowered into position on Shoreline Drive where longtime crew member Richard Coons, 36, of Lakewood, helped set them into place.

For the past six years Coons has helped build the track, and said he goes to the Grand Prix every year.

“It’s a good feeling to actually come here and see something that takes so long in the middle of a city that comes together; it’s a huge race, it’s good for Long Beach, it’s good for everybody,” Coons said.

Crane operator Abel Arriola of Anaheim has helped build the track for the past three years, but has been laying K-rail for the last 20. He said the number-one rule for laying concrete blocks is “don’t put your fingers in the way.”

More than 2,400 blocks will make up the safety system surrounding the 1.97-mile, 11-turn track; that’s more than 14 million pounds of concrete–not to mention the six pedestrian bridges, 17,000 bolted-together tires and four miles of fencing that staff will take more than 33,000 working hours to install, according to the press material.

Earlier this month Grand Prix officials announced Acura as its new title sponsor after Toyota ended its 39-year title partnership with the city’s largest event in August.

President and CEO of the Grand Prix Association Jim Michaelian described the new partnership as “the start of a new era in the history of the Grand Prix.”

Long Beach Grand Prix announces new title sponsor

Turns 9, 10, and 11 will be used for Formula Drift on April 5-6, the first race of the 2019 season, which traditionally precedes the Grand Prix. Businesses along the race circuit, including those on Shoreline Drive and Aquarium Way, will remain open during construction.

The 45th Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach will run April 12-14 and feature the NTT IndyCar Series, IMSA’s BUBBA Burger Sports Car Grand Prix, Pirelli GT4 America, SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks, the Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge on Friday and Saturday nights and the Historic IMSA GTO Challenge. For more information, visit the website here.

Workmen move concrete barriers in place on Shoreline Drive on Monday morning.
Photo by Bill Alkofer
Anthony Ramirez and Frank Zavala move concrete barriers into place along Shoreline
Drive on Monday morning.
Photo by Bill Alkofer
Richard Coons sets a block in place along Shoreline Drive on Monday morning.
Photo by Bill Alkofer

Asia Morris is a Long Beach native covering arts and culture for the Long Beach Post. You can reach her @hugelandmass on Twitter and Instagram and at [email protected].