Big weekend for blu eCigs, Dorff, RLL in Long Beach

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Although the result didn’t come for Mike Conway and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in Sunday’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, it was still a big weekend for the team and new sponsor blu eCigs.

Blu is a new electronic cigarette that produces none of the tobacco smoke, ash or smell, but also allows for vapor production and consistency to replicate an actual cigarette. It had dabbled in NASCAR with a small associate sponsorship, but Long Beach marked blu’s first race as a primary sponsor in IndyCar. A blu display was hard to miss in the Long Beach Expo Center.

Actor Stephen Dorff, whose credits include “Backbeat,” “Somewhere,” “Blade,” “Cecil B. DeMented” and “Space Truckers,” among others, was on hand to help promote the product.

The event was Dorff’s first IndyCar race and his ride in a two-seater practically blew his mind.

“It was sweet! It was so fast,” Dorff said when describing the ride. “We talked about doing an appearance for blu, and waited for this event. The partnership with Bobby and Letterman’s team provides the whole kit and caboodle. Mike looks sick out there, and the car looks fast just sitting still.”

As blu tests the waters for future races – and Conway certainly helped with a Firestone Fast Six appearance and practice pace – it could mark an opportunity for cigarette sponsorship to re-enter racing more regularly.

For a generation of racing, between Formula 1 and IndyCar, tobacco sponsorship was ubiquitous. But within the last decade, almost all signage has been phased out owing to new regulations, and Marlboro’s naming support finally ended for flagship teams Ferrari and Team Penske.

Dorff, a smoker for 20 or so years, said blu began in more of a grassroots way, and he thought of them when eCigs began popping up.

“It’s a new alternative, and it’s generated more positive reactions,” said Dorff. “If they want, the guys on Mike’s team can smoke the blus at the track, but the people around don’t need to worry. It’s old mixed with the new, and brings in a modern feel. It’s not combustion but still has the flavor.”

Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

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We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.