By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
LONG BEACH, California – The City of Long Beach recognized two active NTT IndyCar Series drivers Sebastien Bourdais and Will Power as both of their legacies in the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach were solidified Thursday as they’ve been inducted into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame.
Since 2006, the Walk of Fame have recognized motorsports greats from different generations such as Mario Andretti, Dario Franchitti, Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones, and Al Unser, Jr.
However, unlike previous editions, the city inducted active competitors in the series for the first time as last year’s inductees Helio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya were no longer competing full-time in the sport as they’ve shifted their focus on the the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Grand Prix Association of Long Beach CEO Jim Michaelian said by the time Bourdais and Power end their careers, they’ll update their medallion etched on the streets next to the Long Beach Convention Center. For now, their accolades are up-to-date as of April 11, 2019.
Bourdais, driver of the No. 18 SealMaster Honda, became the first driver since Unser, Jr. to win three or more straight races in Long Beach with his three-peat from 2004-07, all while racing for the legendary Newman/Haas Racing squad.
“Long Beach has been extremely good to me over the years,” said Bourdais. “It’s always a place that I come back to with great pleasure, and I’m going to be with great company.”
Bourdais acknowledge his fellow bosses in both IndyCar and IMSA, including 2011 inductees Dale Coyne Racing w/ Vasser-Sullivan co-owner Jimmy Vasser, and Chip Ganassi, who he’ll be driving for in Saturday’s BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix.
When he found out he’d be going into the Walk of Fame, Bourdais was surprised because of they’ve only recognized retired drivers.
“When I received the information that I was going to be inducted. I was like, ‘Did somebody say that I retired?’
“I’m really honored and very excited about the prospect of this weekend’s race. Obviously, we’re coming off a pretty good weekend in Barber. Finishing on the podium and looking forward to some good momentum and hopefully we can keep it rolling, and add another win to this great event.”
Power is a two-time Long Beach winner, winning for both Vasser in the final Champ Car World Series event in 2008, and was also triumphant in 2012 with Team Penske.
The 2018 Indianapolis 500 winner reflected on being at the prestigious street circuit for the first time in 2006, and said it was a dream come true competing with the best American open wheel drivers, but never expected to be surrounded with the who’s who of motorsports 13 years later.
“It really was a dream come to true to be racing at the iconic Long Beach Grand Prix. It’s got a very long and rich history in Indy car and Formula One racing,” said Power.
“When I look at the names along this Walk of Fame. I’ve never would’ve dreamed that I be in among Mario Andretti, Dan Gurney and Jimmy Vasser. My first win in Long Beach was with Jimmy’s team at KV. It was a fantastic day, fantastic win, but also kind of a sad day as well.
“It was the last race of Champ Car, but it was really exciting that the two series were merging back together. Now we have, I would say probably, the most competitive open wheel series in the world and the most versatile.”
Power added that being inducted with Bourdais this year was fitting because of the time he arrived in American open wheel racing when Bourdais ruled Champ Car, winning four consecutive championships from 2004-07.
“It’s such an honor and a proud moment to have my name here, and it’s very fitting to be inducted alongside Sebastien,” said Power. “When I moved up to Champ Car, he was a god. Winning all the championships, winning all the races, so we’ve raced over the last 12 years. We’ve had some fantastic battles and it’s really cool to be next to him on the Walk of Fame.
“Now I have son, and it really is a proud moment to have my name there. It’s something when he’s old enough to understand, he can walk here and see his father’s name on the Walk of Fame.”
Both inductees look to extend their legacies and add another victory to their established careers this weekend at Long Beach, with the 45th Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach taking place April 14. The race will air on NBCSN live at 4:00 pm ET.