Fans race to Long Beach for Grand Prix

LONG BEACH The 34th annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach officially started Friday, with spectator gates opening at 7 a.m. This is the last Champ Car World Series as a standalone series.

Click in the Eyewitness News Story Window above to watch Melissa MacBride's report from downtown Long Beach, including an interview with the CEO of Grand Prix.

"It's going to represent the 25th anniversary of Champ Car coming to Long Beach, and we're going to have a big celebration and welcome them back one more time. I'm sure they're going to put on a great race here this weekend, and then we're going to look forward to running the indy racing in 2009 and beyond," said Jim Michaelian, CEO of Grand Prix.

The weekend will have a huge economic impact on downtown Long beach, with about 180,000 people expected to attend and roughly $30 million pouring into the city's finances.

Michaelian agreed and added, "it's also very significant in terms of the television exposure that the city gets, and in terms of the marketing capabilities that they achieve through all of the individuals that come to the event and see how the city has developed."

Fans will be able to attend a variety of races over the course of the weekend, including the American Le Mans Series events, team drifting, Atlantic series and the pro-celebrity race.

"There has been a remarkable renaissance in downtown Long Beach over the years, and we're delighted to be able to host this event in this great environment," Michaelian said.

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