By IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Ask any race car driver for their favorite memories – as we did this week heading into the BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach – and they’ll pretty much always land on races they’ve won or at least walked away from the podium with a trophy.
That was certainly our experience this week in the feedback we received from drivers entered in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class for Saturday’s 100-minute battle on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit in Southern California. The race also includes the factory-backed cars and drivers in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class.
The BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach will be televised live on NBCSN beginning at 5 p.m. ET, with IMSA Radio also covering all of the action live on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio Channel 202 (Internet 972).
Ricky Taylor, who will co-drive the No. 7 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 DPi with Helio Castroneves, had no trouble coming up with good memories. After all, he and his brother, Jordan Taylor, co-drove to three consecutive #BUBBAGP wins between 2015 and 2017.
“My favorite Long Beach memory is probably winning three times with my brother, driving for our dad,” said Ricky. “Really cool memory. It’s a really awesome venue to win, and three times was really special.”
It’s a similar story for Jordan, who is slated to share the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R with Renger van der Zande in Saturday’s race. The No. 10 duo heads into this weekend’s third round of the WeatherTech Championship season tied for the DPi points lead with No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi co-drivers Pipo Derani and Felipe Nasr.
But Jordan’s favorite memory is slightly more specific.
“I’d say my favorite Long Beach memory would be winning there in 2017,” he said. “It made it three in a row for us that year, having won Daytona and Sebring. It also made it three in a row for Ricky and I on the streets of Long Beach.
“That year was particularly exciting because I think we made a pass for the lead with about 10 minutes to go. Long Beach always provides great racing and exciting finishes like that. Hopefully, we can be part of another one this year.”
Fair enough. But what about drivers who haven’t taken home a winner’s trophy – or worse yet – had an incident on the track?
“I have bad memories in 2017,” said van der Zande. “We crashed in practice with no brakes and we couldn’t even race. But in 2018, we finished third on the podium together with Wayne Taylor Racing and Konica Minolta and we’re ready to rock n’ roll again.”
Dane Cameron, who will share the No. 6 Acura DPi with Juan Pablo Montoya this weekend, also points to a third-place result as his highlight to date. But he’s thinking the best is yet to come on the streets of Long Beach.
“My favorite memory from racing at Long Beach so far in IMSA is getting to the podium in 2016 with Eric (Curran) and I there (in the No. 31 Corvette DP),” Cameron said. “I’ve been pretty close a couple times there to getting that first victory, but haven’t quite broken through just yet.
“Hopefully, 2019 will finally be that year. Juan was on pole there last year, so I think we have a great Acura DPi car and Acura is obviously sponsoring the entire race now, so I can’t think of a better time to make my new favorite memory at Long Beach than this weekend.”
Tickets for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend – including Saturday’s BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach – are available now at GPLB.com.