Long Beach would require $9m in upgrades to host F1

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Long Beach Grand Prix promoter Chris Pook has estimated that it will cost $9.2m to upgrade the circuit if it is to host Formula 1 in the next few years, as he continues his crusade to bring the sport back to California.

Following the success of the revived United States Grand Prix at the newly-built Circuit of the Americas, plans have been made for a second race to be held at Port Imperial in New Jersey. However, with the project now twice postponed, other options in North America are being considered, and Pook is keen on bringing Formula 1 back to Long Beach.

“We just want the opportunity to state our case, to be considered,” he explained to the Orange County Register. “We just want them to take a look at what we bring to the table. That’s all we’re asking.”

Formula 1 last graced Long Beach back in 1983, and the race has since made up part of the IndyCar schedule. In order to host F1 again, though, some upgrades will be required such as extending the circuit in places. However, Pook says that original estimates are way off the mark, with the price being closer to $9m to complete the work.

“People have been saying it would cost $100 million,” he said. “That number has just stuck in people’s minds. It’s not even close to that.

“The net tax gain for Austin in 2013 was $4.9 million, and the net gain for Texas was $17.2 million. The value of F1 is that it provides new money. F1 racing draws a worldwide audience. You would be tapping into new consumers.

“F1 wants to be in Southern California by 2016,” Pook added. “I’m conflicted, because I want to see it here. It’s where we started and it’s a big piece of history.”

Quite whether Formula 1’s possible return to Long Beach comes to fruition remains to be seen, but Bernie Ecclestone confirmed that he had approached the city when the tender for the race was opened up.

If an agreement is reached, then it could be a more viable option than the Grand Prix of America in New Jersey, but should the latter also kick into gear and finally go ahead, we may have three races in the United States on the F1 calendar by 2016.

AJ Foyt Racing promotes Benjamin Pedersen from Indy Lights to IndyCar for 2023 season

Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt
AJ Foyt Racing
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Benjamin Pedersen is the first driver to land a promotion from Indy Lights into IndyCar for next season as AJ Foyt Racing confirmed Wednesday he’ll be part of its 2023 lineup.

Pedersen, a 23-year-old dual citizen of Denmark and the United States, spent last season running the full Indy Lights schedule for HMD Motorsports. Linus Lundqvist, his teammate, won the Lights title, and Pedersen finished fifth in the final standings. Pedersen earned his only win earlier this month when he led every lap from the pole at Portland.

Pedersen also ran four races for HMD in 2021 with back-to-back runner-up finishes in his debut. Pedersen landed on AJ Foyt Racing team president Larry Foyt’s radar through a “trusted colleague” and Pedersen spent most of last season shadowing the IndyCar team.

His promotion to IndyCar comes ahead of all four drivers who finished ahead of him in the Indy Lights standings, including champion Lundqvist.

“We are really looking forward to having Benjamin as part of the team,” Larry Foyt said. “His enthusiasm is infectious, and he is 100 percent committed to IndyCar, AJ Foyt Racing, and doing the best he can to win races.

“It’s been great to have him embedded with the team this past season, and everyone is excited to hit the ground running when testing begins. It is also great to have a multi-year program in place, which will help him and the team grow together.”

Foyt did not announce a car number for Pedersen. Kyle Kirkwood spent his rookie season driving AJ Foyt’s flagship No. 14 but Kirkwood is moving to Andretti Autosport. The team has not yet announced if Dalton Kellett will return for a fourth season, and a third car for Tatiana Calderon was pulled from competition after seven races because of sponsorship non-payment. Shutting down Calderon’s team removed the only semi-regular female driver from the IndyCar field.

Pedersen, however, was signed to an agreement Foyt said “spans multiple seasons as the team plans to develop the young rookie and is aligned to a longer-term plan for AJ Foyt Racing.”

Pedersen was born in Copenhagen but raised in Seattle and currently lives in Indianapolis. He said his time shadowing the IndyCar team has given him a jump on his rookie preparations.

“I’ve spent a lot of time this season with AJ Foyt Racing learning the ins and outs of making the jump to IndyCar and it’s been really nice to do that in conjunction with my Indy Lights season,” Pedersen said. “IndyCar has been my target goal since I started open wheel racing in 2016. The racing, atmosphere, fans, events, tracks, etc. are all awesome.”