Fast Facts: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

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The INDYCAR PR staff has assembled the following details for this weekend’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Here are the fast facts heading into this weekend’s race (Sunday, 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN):

TOYOTA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH FAST FACTS

Track: 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street course (clockwise)
Race distance: 80 laps / 157.4 miles
Entry List:  Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (PDF)
Push-to-pass parameters: 10 activations for 20 seconds each
Firestone tire allotment: Four sets primary, three sets alternate
Twitter: @ToyotaGPLB @IndyCar, #TGPLB, #IndyCar
Event website: www.gplb.com
INDYCAR website: www.IndyCar.com
2014 race winner: Mike Conway (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet)
2014 Verizon P1 Award winner: Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 28 DHL Honda),1:07.8219, 104.462 mph
Qualifying lap record: Justin Wilson, 1:06.902, 105.898 mph, April 2008

NBCSN race broadcast: Sunday, April 19 (4 p.m. ET)
NBCSN qualifying broadcast: Saturday, April 18 (6:30 p.m. ET)

Brian Till will be the play-by-play announcer for NBCSN’s broadcast of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Marty Snider, Kelly Stavast, Kevin Lee and Robin Miller are the pit reporters.

Radio broadcasts: Paul Page is the chief announcer alongside analyst Davey Hamilton. Qualifying and all Verizon IndyCar Series races are broadcast live on the IMS Radio Network, Sirius 213, XM 209, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and on the INDYCAR 15 app. Verizon IndyCar Series practice sessions are on IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR 15 app.

Video Streaming: All practice sessions for the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season will be available on the INDYCAR YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/indycar) and RaceControl.IndyCar.com.

INDYCAR 15 App: Verizon Wireless puts fans in the driver’s seat with its INDYCAR 15 app. The app has been enhanced with new features to keep fans in the know of the latest race-day action. Exclusive features of the INDYCAR 15 app for Verizon Wireless customers will stream live through the app and include Interactive 3D Live View with real-time leaderboard and car telemetry to see where a fan’s favorite driver is positioned, leaderboard with enhanced 2D marching ants and car telemetry for 2015, in-car camera video streams from cameras that move 360 degrees and Driver-Pit Crew Chatter as drivers talk strategy with their pit crews during the race.

At-track schedule (all times local): 
Friday, April 17 
12:30-1:15 p.m. (Verizon IndyCar Series practice)
3:45-4:30 p.m. (Verizon IndyCar Series practice)

Saturday, April 18
10-10:45 a.m. (Verizon IndyCar Series practice)
2 p.m. (Three rounds of Verizon IndyCar Series qualifications)

Sunday, April 19
10-10:30 a.m. (Verizon IndyCar Series warm-up)
1 p.m. NBCSN on air
1:37 p.m. Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach green flag

Race Notes:
* James Hinchcliffe and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports played strategy to perfection and won the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana at NOLA Motorsports Park on April 12. Now the “mayor of Hinchtown” hopes to make Long Beach his latest conquest.

* This weekend’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will mark the 32nd Indy car event on the historic street circuit. Mario Andretti won the first Indy car race there in 1984. Mike Conway was the 2014 race winner.

* Al Unser Jr. has won the most times at Long Beach (six), while Sebastien Bourdais and Will Power are the only entered drivers with multiple wins. Bourdais won three straight races from 2005-2007. Power won in 2008 and 2012. Other former race winners scheduled to compete are: Juan Pablo Montoya (1999), Helio Castroneves (2001), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2010) and Takuma Sato (2013).

* Team Penske drivers have won four of the last six poles at Long Beach: Power from 2009-2011 and Ryan Briscoe in 2012. In addition to Power, other past pole winners entered in this year’s race are: Hunter-Reay (2014), Justin Wilson (2008), Bourdais (2006-2007), Castroneves (2001) and Tony Kanaan (1999).

* Four drivers have won the race from the pole – Andretti (1984, 1985 and 1987), Unser Jr. (1989-90), Castroneves (2001) and Bourdais (2006-07).

* Nineteen drivers entered in the event have competed in Indy car races at Long Beach. Twelve of those drivers have led laps: Bourdais 168, Power 162, Hunter-Reay 122, Castroneves 101, Sato 66, Marco Andretti 64, Kanaan 51, Montoya 40, Simon Pagenaud 26, Scott Dixon 25, Sebastian Saavedra 3, Josef Newgarden 1.

* Gabby Chaves, Stefano Coletti, Francesco Dracone and Luca Filippi will compete in their first Verizon IndyCar Series race on the streets of Long Beach. Chaves competed on the circuit in Indy Lights.

* Kanaan seeks to start his 236th consecutive race, which would extend his Indy car-record streak that began in 2001 at Portland. Teammate Dixon has made 177 consecutive starts.

* Dixon, the longest-tenured driver for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, is tied with Bobby Unser for fifth on the all-time Indy car victory list with 35.

* The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg marked the competition debut of aerodynamic bodywork kits designed, manufactured and supplied by Chevrolet and Honda. Cars are differentiated by their shape on the street course as the manufacturers have designed separate aero kit specifications for road and street course/short ovals and speedways for the Dallara IR-12 chassis. References to the cars will incorporate the name of the corresponding manufacturer.

* The No. 5 Arrow/Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda Dallara crew of James Hinchcliffe won the Firestone Pit Stop Performance Award during the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana with a total pit lane time of 35.066 seconds. The Arrow/Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Motorsports crew will receive its $10,000 award during pre-race festivities at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E and Ian James set to race ahead of electric motorsports’ curve

James McLaren Formula E
NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team
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As Formula E enters their ninth season and McLaren Racing is set to compete in last year’s championship winning car, Ian James is passionate about pushing electric motorsports forward at a critical stage as race technology begins surpassing that of the street cars.

Midseason, McLaren acquired the assets of the Mercedes-EQ team as they were already on their way to winning a second consecutive championship. With those assets in place and coming off a successful debut in the Extreme E series, James is set to usher in a new era in electric car racing.

Last week’s announcement that Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast behind the wheel of the NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team was the last piece of the puzzle.

McLaren’s electric portfolio is building with the Formula E team coming one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour. There were a lot of lessons to learn in that series with growing pains during the first three of five rounds. Rounds 4 and 5 were a completely different matter with the team crossing the finish line first in Chile before being assessed a time penalty.

In the final round in Uruguay, they scored an elusive podium.

“McLaren kicked off the season in Extreme E at the beginning of this year, so our first [electric] race took place Neom, actually out in Saudi,” NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team Principal James told NBC Sports. “At the time, we were in very early discussions about opportunities with the Formula E team. I actually went out there to meet with Zak [Brown, CEO McLaren Racing] and that was my first taste of Extreme E.

“Since the transition, I joined them in Chile in Atacama Desert, and then Uruguay last weekend. [The second-place finish was] a lovely way to round out the season. The fact that they got that podium. It was very well deserved. It’s a great team and a great series actually. It’s just so very different from anything else. The team’s done a great job in getting set up, and it’s nice now to, we’re trying to use that momentum that we’ve got from Uruguay to get us into next season when it kicks off next year, which will be great. I think we’re mid-March is looking like the first race, so a little bit of time to get things prepped for that.”

 

James McLaren Formula E
The NEOM Mclaren Racing Formula E Team was created through the acquisition of last year’s championship team from Mercedes-EQ. – NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team

Synergies exist between the single seater and rally series. Lessons learned about battery power and sustainability in the electric SUV carry over so long as one is mindful of keeping focus on the individual needs and nuances of each series.

Especially now that electric racing technology has caught up, and is ready to surpass, the existing technology that has gone into building street cars.

When internal combustion engines gained the upper hand soon after automobiles were invented, racing paced alongside. The pressure of competition pushed the development of their commercial equivalents. The same has not necessarily been true of electric cars. Street cars were not designed to undergo the same stress as racecars – and that vulnerability showed up on the racetrack.

“Formula E has come along a long way,” James said. “I think one of the most notable developments is in the battery technology. In Gen 1, you had the drivers jumping from one car to another car midrace because the battery technology and capacity simply wasn’t where it needed to be to do the full distance. That obviously changed in Gen 2 and we saw a power increase as well to the 250 kilowatts.

“Now going to Gen 3, we have 350 kilowatts in a smaller battery. But that means that we’re relying on the regeneration of energy and for that reason, we’ve got also the opportunity to regenerate on the front axle as well as the rear axle now. So, there’s all sorts of things that are developing in the right direction.

“In terms of throttle response, actually, we’re now in a situation with electric racing and the motors that it’s instantaneous. And one of the advantages of electric over combustion engine is that the torque is instantaneous as well, so that gives you a lot more room to play with.”

No matter the power source, racing has always been about resource management. Drivers and teams select tire strategies they believe produce the fastest elapsed time and fuel conservation comes into play.

On one hand, electric racing is the same, but there is a critical difference. With the battery as both the power source and an integral part of the engine, there are multiple reasons to manage it.

In electric racing, the brain of the car is the software – and that is where James sees the greatest room for advancement.

“As we are working with our drivers and engineers – and start to look at functionality to improve our efficiency and our performance, that’s something we’ll continue to push because that development is open throughout the season,” James said. “That’s going to be our focus going forward and provides enough of a challenge for us to get our teeth into.

“What’s going to be fascinating is as Formula E continues, is to really look at which areas of development on the car are going to be the most relevant and ensuring that we can focus on those together with the manufacturers so we continue and use the series as a platform for technical development that can then feed back into the road car side of things as well.

“At the end of the day, that’s what motorsports always been, a very powerful tool for, and I see Formula E as no exception.”

James McLaren Formula E
Jake Hughes and Rene Rast were chosen for their ability to drive fast and execute the necessary strategy for energy management. – NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team

Selecting Rast and Hughes as McLaren’s Formula E drivers was not simply because they know how to drive fast. James believes both drivers have the mental aptitude to execute energy management strategies throughout the race and squeeze maximum performance.

“As with many other motorsports, you’ve got a certain amount of energy that you’re able to deploy during the race and the management of that energy is absolutely crucial,” James said. “What we’re seeing typically in electric motorsports now is the hardware side of things. The efficiencies that we’re seeing in the powertrain as a whole, they’re getting up to the sort of 96%, 97%, 98% efficiency, so the gains that you get through that further and further become more marginal.”

With much more room for improvement, software is a different matter. To make the best decisions, the drivers need data, and that is where James believes McLaren Formula E will make their greatest impact.

“And then you really switch that focus to the software and that’s where you’re going to see the most the most improvement and the most gains,” James continued. “It’s then using that software to ensure that you’re deploying the energy in the most efficient manner during race, and thereby giving the driver the most performance. And that’s something which is incredibly complicated, but I find it a fascinating area to work in.

“The benefit of being involved in racing is you can really push the envelope in a way that you can’t do on road cars. And I think that that’s where that value comes in. It means that you accelerate the development a lot quicker. We will get ahead of the curve – and we are getting ahead of the curve now – and that will mean that the electric motorsports remain part of the overall development process.

“The key to that is also making sure that the racing’s exciting and fun for the fans. If we can, we can tick both of those boxes, then it’s got a very bright future ahead of it.”