March 27 in Motorsports History: F1’s last race at Long Beach

Paul-Henri Cahier/Getty Images

Long Beach is regarded by fans and drivers alike as among the world’s most well-established street circuits.

The tight and windy course is the oldest annual event of its kind in the United States and plays host to the second biggest race on the IndyCar calendar.

But before America’s top open-wheel circuit raced in Long Beach, the event was part of the Formula One calendar.

Conceived and promoted by former travel agent Chris Pook, the first edition of the Grand Prix was a Formula 5000 race won by Brian Redman in 1975.

Formula One cars made their debut on the popular street circuit the following year, and for the next eight seasons, some of F1’s greatest drivers won the event.

Mario Andretti was Long Beach’s lone American winner during its status as a round of the World Championship, taking the checkers in 1977. Nelson Piquet won in 1980, and Nikki Lauda won in 1982.

While the race was one of the most popular events on the F1 schedule and brought global exposure to the region, it was not a financially sound venture. By 1983, Pook was in discussions with the new CART series to replace F1 with IndyCar racing, an announcement that was made following that year’s race.

Luckily for Southern Califonia F1 fans, Long Beach’s last event on the schedule was a wild one.

Ferrari teammates Patrick Tambay and Rene Arnoux started on the front row, followed by the two Williams entries of Keke Rosberg and Jacques Laffite.

All four drivers battled fiercely during the first third of the race. On Lap 25 Rosberg attempted to pass Tambay in the hairpin. However, Tambay attempted to shut the door, causing both to make contact and retire from the race. Laffite then took control of the lead.

John Watson,Niki Lauda, Rene Arnoux stand on the podium following the 1983 Grand Prix of Long Beach. (Photo by Bernard Cahier/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, the two McLarens of John Watson and Niki Lauda were making their way through the field. Watson and Lauda qualified 22nd and 23rd, respectfully and initially weren’t considered serious contenders.

By Lap 45, both McLarens were right behind Tambay. With the Ferrari driver on wearing tires, Watson and Lauda both were able to pass, and remained in 1-2 through to the checkered flag. The victory was the fifth and final for Watson, who would retire from F1 two years later.

As expected, Long Beach did become a CART event the following season, with Mario Andretti winning the first event under the new sanctioning body.

The race since has become a local tradition for the coastal community, and though it was canceled this year because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it will return again next season and likely will remain one of motorsports’ premier events for years to come.

Also on this date:

1971: David Coulthard was born in Twynholm, Scotland. Between 1994 and 2008, Coulthard won 13 times in Formula One.

1977: Johnny Rutherford won the Jimmy Bryan 150 at Phoenix International Raceway, the second round of the 14-race USAC Champ Car Series season. Mario Andretti shockingly failed to qualify for the race.

2011: Dario Franchitti won the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the 2011 IndyCar season opener. Franchitti won three more races later in the year en route to his fourth and final championship

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Chase Sexton wins Triple Crown Anaheim 2 Supercross: Levi Kitchen unseats Jett Lawrence in 250s

Supercross Anaheim 2
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

Chase Sexton won two of the three races in the Monster Energy Supercross Anaheim 2 Triple Crown, which was enough to overcome a fifth-place finish in Race 2 and give him the overall victory. It was the second Supercross win of his career.

“Super big night for me,” Sexton told NBC Sports’ Will Christien. “After last weekend with that being a struggle, I just need to come out here and stop the bleeding a little bit and I did that tonight.”

Sexton suffered a crash on Lap 1 of his heat, sending him into Last Chance Qualifier. The bad gate pick put him in a difficult position to start the race and he was able to climb to only fifth at the checkers.

At Anaheim 2, three riders entered the final race of the Triple Crown in a winner-take-all scenario. Sexton, Jason Anderson and Eli Tomac each had a shot at victory. It raised the intensity level for all riders in an evening that featured a lot of comers and goers.

Jason Anderson took the early lead in Race 3, which set him up for the overall victory. Sexton stalked and passed him midway through the race and then a minor mistake late allowed Webb to slip around as well. Anderson’s 5-1-3 gave him second overall.

“I had a tough couple of rounds, getting off that Anaheim 1 crash and then last week weekend I fumbled a little bit, but I’m excited to get back on the box and start moving forward,” Anderson told Jason Thomas.

Anderson finished seventh in the first two rounds of 2023.

RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 Main in Anaheim 2

Ken Roczen was the model of consistency in the opening rounds and at Anaheim 2. In three races so far this year, he’s gotten progressively better each time with a fifth in A1, a fourth last week in San Deigo and a third this week.

With results of 2-3-4, he earned his first podium of the season, which lands him fourth in the standings.

“This was hard earned,” Roczen said after the race. “I completely botched the start and then to have to work my way up. I only happen on the very last lap to step up here on the podium.”

Webb’s solid second-place finish in the third race allowed him to leapfrog several riders and finish fourth overall, but a seventh in Race 1 kept him off the podium. He improved in each race in Anaheim, however, with a 7-4-2.

With a 4-6-5, Dylan Ferrandis rounded out the top five.

The intensity of the race was a little too much for Tomac.

While battling side-by-side with Webb in Race 3 at the one-third mark, Tomac jumped wide and crashed hard. He fell to 14th, doing some damage to his bike in the process. He advanced only one position in that race to 13th. His first two races, a third and second, were strong enough to give him sixth overall. He retains the points lead, but it has shrunk to a gap of only four over Sexton and Webb.

Malcolm Stewart injured late in the week and was not able to mount.

Levi Kitchen became the first rider to unseat Jett Lawrence in the Triple Crown format at Anaheim 2 and won the overall with consistency. In his three races, Kitchen finished 4-2-2 to narrowly edge the winner of the first two races.

“This whole day; this is unbelievable. I took a few good slams in practice and I was down on myself,” Kitchen told NBC Sports Jason Thomas afterward. “The first moto I got a good start and got shuffled back, then I knew I just needed to be consistent.”

Jett Lawrence saved his best for last – which wasn’t hard given the struggles he experienced in the first two races.

Despite those problems, he entered Race 3 of the Triple Crown three points behind Kitchen after suffering a pair of disappointing races by his personal measuring stick. In the first and second 250 races of the night, Lawrence hit the ground. He dropped to the final rider in the running order in Race 2 with a Lap 1 fall. But in both races, he was able to overcome his mistake and close the gap so that he had a chance to take his first Triple Crown win of his career.

Click here for full 250 West Main Results

Lawrence rode to third in Race 1 and sixth in Race 2. In the final race of the night, Lawrence did all he could. He earned the holeshot, but when Kitchen fell in behind him, Lawrence’s fate was sealed. His 3-6-1 tied him in points with Stilez Robertson, but the tiebreaker goes to the final round and his win secured second-place.

“I can definitely say Triple Crowns are not my thing,” Lawrence told NBC Sports Will Christien. “We have one more to try and fix this, so hopefully we can get that done.”

Lawrence will move into the 450 class for the Lucas Oil Motocross outdoor season and his 250 record book will be closed.

The best news for Lawrence is the other riders who entered this round in the top three had a worse night, so Lawrence leaves Anaheim with a 16-point gap on Cameron McAdoo and 17 over RJ Hampshire.

Roberston finished 6-1-3 to take the final step of the podium.

“Getting that win in the second Main meant a lot,” Roberston told Thomas. “I wish I could have done a little better in the third one, but we’re still up here on the box.”

Mitchell Oldenburg used consistency to earn fourth in the overall. He finished 5-4-6.

After missing the Main last week in San Diego, Max Vohland finished 7-8-4 to round out the top five.

RJ Hampshire set himself up as the early favorite with his Race 1 win. In Race 2, it all fell apart. He fell in the sand section and damaged his bike, finishing last in that race. The final event of the night for the 250s provided only a 13th-place finish, leaving Hampshire deep in the points.

Cameron McAdoo hard crash in qualification, which was scary news for a team that has seen three of their riders sidelined with injury. McAdoo was never quite able to get his rhythm with an 8-7-5.

2023 Race Recaps

San Diego: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time

Anaheim 2 coverage

Power Rankings Week 2
SuperMotocross tightens playoff schedule
Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence go two-for-two in San Diego
Results and points after San Diego
Seth Hammaker to miss 250 E season opener with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner with injury
Injury sidelines Austin Forkner for remainder of 2023 SX