One-hundred minutes. That may not seem like much time for a sports car race, especially following 24- and 12-hour events. Yet 100 quick minutes on the ultra-tough and bumpy street circuit of the Long Beach Grand Prix tests the mettle of driver and machine alike.
Long Beach is the shortest circuit on the SRT® Viper GTS-R schedule, measuring just less than two miles and lined with concrete barriers. The 40th running of the Long Beach Grand Prix is set for this weekend.
Last season, the No. 91 of Dominik Farnbacher and Marc Goossens finished on the podium in third place at Long Beach. The duo opened the event by winning the pole and led several laps of the race on the 11-turn circuit shore-side circuit.
Also in action will be the No. 93 of Jonathan Bomarito and Kuno Wittmer, who finished second most recently at Sebring.
What It Takes
“Long Beach requires a very different car set-up,” says Matt Bejnarowicz, who serves as the SRT Viper Racing Lead Engineer. “Because of the Long Beach layout, there are no high speed corners. All the corners require heavy braking. The cars need to be stable under the braking system, as the cars need to be braking and turning simultaneously.”
Keeping the brakes cool is critical, as the cars run nose-to-tail, bunched up for most of the race with limited area where the brakes can naturally cool. Traditionally, street courses are very hard on brake systems, from thermal and performance standpoints alike.
“When I say the car has to do well under braking, it’s a combination of several things,” shares Bejnarowicz. “You have to maximize tire grip to generate the highest braking force. This means the car has to be for prepared for braking in the corners, maintaining stability for braking and turning. To do well at Long Beach, stability under braking and a confident driver are requisites.”
The bumpy circuit at Long Beach also can take a toll on the suspension of a race car. Developed for endurance events, the Viper GTS-R has a very robust suspension. The key is monitoring the suspension components and data, so the team can ensure that all suspension components are functioning properly.
All About Strategy
In a short race like Long Beach, the team’s pit strategy is critical. Historically, a caution flag flies early in the race, allowing teams to make required driver and tire changes, as well as refuel. This usually leads to a final quick fuel stop late in the race.
“You try to minimize time on pit lane, because track position is so important at Long Beach,” explains Bejnarowicz. “It’s difficult to pass, making for very competitive racing. Track position is the key to success on this street circuit. Maintaining position and well-timed pit stops make the difference.”
“All the drivers are capable of running as hard as they can for the whole race,” adds Bejnarowicz. “Like an endurance race, success comes from staying out of trouble. Here at Long Beach, the drivers really need to keep their noses clean and bodywork unmarked.”
The green flag for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship portion of the Long Beach Grand Prix is set for 6 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturday, April 12, with broadcast coverage live on FOX Sports 1. Visit the Racing Page on driveSRT.com all weekend for continual updates.