The NTT IndyCar Series will move the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach to its season finale, marking the second consecutive year the schedule will end on a street course because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Long Beach race has been rescheduled to Sept. 26 from its traditional April date. IndyCar will conclude the season with a three-race West Coast stretch of Long Beach, Portland International Raceway (Sept. 12) and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca (whose Sept. 19 race originally was intended as the finale). St. Petersburg closed the 2020 season after being slated as the season opener before it was postponed March 13.
Long Beach has been an IndyCar fixture for more than three decades; the cancellation of the 2020 event because of COVID-19 marked the first time the crown jewel (which was a Formula One race from 1976-83 prior to IndyCar) wasn’t held in 44 years.
“It is important to have Long Beach rescheduled to continue the history and tradition for one of the series’ hallmark events in one of the nation’s premier media markets,” Penske Entertainment Corp. President and CEO Mark Miles said in an IndyCar release Thursday.
“Further, it’s a tremendous opportunity to wrap up the season with three straight iconic venues for what we believe will be our most exciting season yet. As we did during the 2020 season, we will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and maintain flexibility across our schedule. We are committed to an action-packed and exhilarating 2021 NTT IndyCar SERIES.”
🚨 LONG BEACH BIG NEWS! 🚨
The @GPLongBeach has been moved from its traditional spring date to Sept. 26, with plans for it to be the 2021 @IndyCar championship finale. pic.twitter.com/787CSsYStc
— IndyCar on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) December 17, 2020
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Series also announced its Long Beach race would be moved to Sept. 25, along with the rescheduling of its race weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca to Sept. 10-12.
This will be the first time a Long Beach race weekend is held in September during its history and will be the 37th time that IndyCar has raced the street circuit in Southern California. Alexander Rossi won the most recent two races in 2018-19, driving the No. 27 Dallara-Honda for Andretti Autosport.
“I want to thank all of the officials at IndyCar for their assistance in rescheduling the 2021 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach to September,” Grand Prix Association of Long Beach President and CEO Jim Michaelian said in a release. “We believe that this move will afford us the best opportunity to provide our guests with a fun and exciting experience in a safe and unrestricted environment. It will be a welcome sight to see the NTT IndyCar Series cars and stars back on the downtown streets of Long Beach in the fall.”
Long Beach initially had been scheduled for April 18 on the 2021 IndyCar schedule that was released Oct. 1. With its move, IndyCar now will have four events ahead of the 105th Indianapolis 500: the March 7 season opener at St. Pete, Barber Motorsports Park (April 11), a doubleheader weekend at Texas Motor Speedway (May 1-2) and the Indianapolis Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course (May 15).
IndyCar said it will update green flag times for its 2021 schedule in the future.