F1 to Long Beach in 2016 rumors won’t go away

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Despite strenuous denials from Long Beach Grand Prix organizers, rumors the race will become an F1 event from 2016 refuse to die down.

Long Beach Grand Prix CEO Jim Michaelian dismissed the reports which first arose two weeks ago, telling the Long Beach Press Telegram: “This is a story that keeps bouncing around every year or so despite the fact that the race isn’t for sale and there’s been no contact between anyone and Kevin about a sale.”

“Nothing is happening,” he continued. “You can contemplate all kind of scenarios, but nothing is happening. To keep speculating, playing this what-if game, just encourages more rumors that don’t amount to anything.”

Kevin Kalkhoven, who jointly owns the race with Jerry Forsythe, also denied the claims.

But veteran US journalist Gordon Kirby stood by his story in an article for MotorSport today. Kirby claims Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone, together with businessman and former racing driver Zak Brown and F1-era Long Beach race promoter Chris Pook, intend to make a bid for the race and bring Formula One back to the track.

All eyes are now on whether the mayor of Long Beach, Bob Foster, heads to the Canadian Grand Prix in June for a rumored meeting with Ecclestone.

Formula One last race at Long Beach in 1983. Since then the race has been held for IndyCars, and former F1 driver Takuma Sato won there last week:

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Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.