Tim sampling the Grand Prix menu.

Can I survive skipping the race?

I don’t know how many Grand Prix of Long Beach races I’ve seen, but it’s pretty close to zero. I’m not what you’d call a huge IndyCar race fan, but that’s not to say I haven’t attended the race over the years. I’ve been to a lot of them — maybe 35 or 40 over the near half-century since the first Grand Prix roared through Long Beach, including up on Ocean Boulevard where the cars would land after grabbing some air flying up South Pine to the boulevard where they would then streak past the last remnants of the old Downtown with its adult theaters and bars and boarded up jewelry stores.

I got in that year when I was still a civilian, just a kid walking his bike around the circuit before somehow winding up inside near the gates thanks to a downed chain link fence that had been haphazardly erected.

Formula One came the following year and my rookie year in journalism and I thoroughly enjoyed the pomp and elegance — you all know how I revel in elegance, enjoying champagne and artichoke hearts in the exclusive Moët Club at the convention center.

That was the highlight for the eight-year run of F1, which saw Long Beach Airport overloaded with private jets and an international crowd strolling the streets of Downtown.

In 1984, the F1 series came to an end in Long Beach to be replaced by a Budweiser-drinking, tank-top-wearing crowd driving their motorhomes near the track to boisterously cheer on the parade of mostly American cars in the CART series, which saw either an Andretti or an Al Unser Jr. win in 10 of the first 11 races here.

That switched, rather quietly, to IndyCars in 2008, and that series continues Friday through Sunday in the race, which all takes place below Ocean on a course that’s changed several times over the years, except for the long arcing straightaway down Shoreline.

I’ve attended most years, at least for a day or two; rarely on Sunday. I’m more of a fan of pony cars and flying trucks as well as a connoisseur of trackside cuisine. I was always assigned to write about the race’s events without actually writing about the race.

This year, basking idly in my quasi-retirement, I’ll miss the Grand Prix. It’ll be weird, but I’m a survivor. I’ll be OK.

Relax. What could go wrong?

As far as basking goes, there’s financial peril that comes with sitting in an easy chair, as I discussed last week when as I was in my recliner, our water heater went out to the tune of about $2,200. That item elicited some welcome sympathy from a pair of readers.

Jim Mattson wrote, “I’m writing to proclaim solidarity to your idea that things will just up and break in and around the house while we are sitting in an easy chair. Just the other day I was seated in mine when the doorbell rang. My neighbor was there to inform me that he had a newly opened sinkhole in his yard and he believed the cause involved my plumbing. Unfortunately, he was correct and I was sad. But $20,000 later I’m back in my chair, seeing as I cannot now afford to go anywhere or do anything else.”

Reader Donna Coats chimed in with “Not to top your story but a similar thing happened to me this past week and it was $2,250. Mine was of the ‘if you give a mouse a cookie’ variety. Called for a leaking bathroom sink and found the shut-off valve under the bathroom sink broken. Toilet leaking, too, needed a new O-ring and that shut-off valve was also broken. Then went to shut off the main valve outside of the house, but it was broken as was the main one at the curb for the city. Oh, and to top it all off, a pinhole leak in the shower so the entire shower has to be removed. That last bit will be on top of the $2,250.”

Coats didn’t specify if she was just lazing in a Barcalounger when the havoc occurred, though I’m gonna go ahead and believe that she was.

Blackbird breakfast

After a couple of weeks on the MAGA side of the Orange Curtain, my daughter Hannah and I returned to the cozy village of Long Beach Monday in our continuing worldwide search for the best breakfast.

On my sister’s recommendation, we visited the Blackbird Cafe at 3405 E. Orange Avenue in California Heights.

The small cafe has a giant and breathtaking breakfast menu that features seven takes on eggs Benedict and the same number of variations on the breakfast burrito.

Going once again with the “when in Rome” method, I ordered the California Heights omelet, with bacon, cheese, fresh avocado, sour cream and salsa. It wasn’t the most exotic thing on the menu, but it was darned good and the cafe was a pleasant discovery. Definitely a contender.

Tim Grobaty is a columnist and the Opinions Editor for the Long Beach Post. You can reach him at 562-714-2116, email [email protected], @grobaty on Twitter and Grobaty on Facebook.