Long Beach Grand Prix announces new title sponsor

Officials for the Grand Prix of Long Beach on Tuesday announced they have reached a multi-year agreement with Acura to become the title sponsor of the city’s largest event, starting in 2019.

The announcement comes just two months before race weekend—April 12-14—and after Toyota announced in August that it would end its partnership with the race after 39 years as the title sponsor.

“This is truly the start of a new era in the history of the Grand Prix,” Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, said in a statement. “As we enter our 45th year of conducting America’s number one street race, we are looking forward with great enthusiasm to this new partnership with a premium luxury brand like Acura. Together we will explore new ways to elevate the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach to greater heights in the coming years.”

Acura, launched in 1986, is the luxury vehicle brand of Honda and it has local dealerships in Cerritos, Torrance and Orange County while Honda has them in Signal Hill, Carson and Cerritos. Acura has long been involved in American motorsports, virtually from its inception, specifically in Sports Car Club of America and IMSA GT Championship series, but Long Beach will be its highest-profile foray into the sport.

Both Acura and Honda, which makes IndyCar engines, have their North America headquarters in Torrance.

Honda-powered cars have won six of the last 10 Grand Prixs, including last year’s winner Alexander Rossi.

“With our U.S. headquarters nearby in Torrance, this is a true ‘home’ event for the Acura brand,” said Jon Ikeda, Acura vice president and general manager. “The Grand Prix of Long Beach is one of North America’s premier motorsports events, and an institution in Southern California.  Acura is delighted and proud to be associated with the Grand Prix of Long Beach, and we look forward to a long and successful partnership.”

Toyota began sponsoring the event in 1980 and had served as an official pace car provider since 1975. In 2014, the auto giant announced that it was relocating its headquarters from Torrance to Texas, though Laura Pierce, general manager of Toyota Motorsports, said last summer that the move had nothing to do with its decision to pull out of the Grand Prix.

Jim Michaelian, president CEO of the Grand Prix Association announces the new multi-year Acura sponsorship of Grand Prix of Long Beach, during a press conference at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. Tuesday, February 5, 2019. Photo by Stephen Carr / Long Beach Post

Jon Ikeda, Vice President and General Manager of Acura, left, and Henio Arcangeli,Jr., Senior Vice President of auto division, American Honda , right, look on as Jim Michaelian, president CEO of the Grand Prix Association announces the new multi-year Acura sponsorship of Grand Prix of Long Beach, during a press conference at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. Tuesday, February 5, 2019. Photo by Stephen Carr / Long Beach Post

Jon Ikeda, Vice President and General Manager of Acura announces the new multi-year Acura sponsorship of Grand Prix of Long Beach, during a press conference at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. Tuesday, February 5, 2019. Photo by Stephen Carr / Long Beach Post

Henio Arcangeli Jr., Senior Vice President of auto division, American Honda, announces the new multi-year Acura sponsorship of Grand Prix of Long Beach, during a press conference at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. Tuesday, February 5, 2019. Photo by Stephen Carr / Long Beach Post

Henio Arcangeli,Jr., Senior Vice President of auto division, American Honda,left, shares a laugh with Penske drivers Juan Pablo Montoya,center, and Ricky Taylor, after Acura announced the new multi-year Acura sponsorship of Grand Prix of Long Beach, during a press conference at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. Tuesday, February 5, 2019. Photo by Stephen Carr / Long Beach Post

Jon Ikeda, Vice President and General Manager of Acura, left, and Henio Arcangeli Jr., Senior Vice President of auto division, American Honda, right, after Jim Michaelian, president CEO of the Grand Prix Association announced the new multi-year Acura sponsorship of Grand Prix of Long Beach, during a press conference at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. Tuesday February 5, 2019. Photo by Stephen Carr / Long Beach Post

Penske driver Ricky Taylor climbs in his car after Acura announced the new multi-year Acura sponsorship of Grand Prix of Long Beach, during a press conference at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. Tuesday, February 5, 2019. Photo by Stephen Carr / Long Beach Post

Henio Arcangeli, Jr., Senior Vice President of auto division, American Honda , left, and Jim Michaelian, president CEO of the Grand Prix Association pose in front of an Acura ARX-05 prototype, after Michaelian announced the new multi-year Acura sponsorship of Grand Prix of Long Beach, during a press conference at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. Tuesday February 5, 2019. Photo by Stephen Carr / Long Beach Post

From left to right, Jim Michaelian, president CEO of the Grand Prix Association,Jon Ikeda, Vice President and General Manager of Acura and Henio Arcangeli Jr., Senior Vice President of auto division, American Honda pose in front of an Acura ARX-05 prototype, after Michaelian announced the new multi-year Acura sponsorship of Grand Prix of Long Beach, during a press conference at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. Tuesday February 5, 2019. Photo by Stephen Carr / Long Beach Post

Henio Arcangeli,Jr., Senior Vice President of auto division, American Honda ,left, and Jim Michaelian, president CEO of the Grand Prix Association, after Michaelian announced the new multi-year Acura sponsorship of Grand Prix of Long Beach, during a press conference at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. Tuesday, February 5, 2019. Photo by Stephen Carr / Long Beach Post

Toyota ends title sponsorship of Long Beach Grand Prix after 39 years

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