The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach holds a special spot in North American motorsports lore. Being a street circuit race, it’s unforgiving of error. A short race for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship – it’s one of two, 100-minute street circuit races on the calendar – there’s little time to recover from a mistake on the track or in the single pit stop. And it’s hard to pass on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary circuit, so qualifying can be extremely important compared to the first two endurance races of the season.

But it’s Long Beach. Not only is it a part of the championship, it’s a high-profile race with big crowds. And all these things means winning at America’s longest-running street race is a feat worthy of celebration.

“The legacy that builds year after year after year around events like this make them special and more valuable and more contested and envied to win it,” said Sebastien Bourdais, who won in IMSA competition for Cadillac Racing in 2022, adding to his three IndyCar victories  at the circuit.

“So this one has really become a huge fixture of any of the series that race at this place. It’s also a very challenging and enjoyable place when you do put one lap together. I have to say putting the car on pole in ’22, the car felt amazing and it’s just one of the best feelings you’ll ever have in a race car. And once you complete the weekend and get it to the top step of the podium, you’ve had a good day and you know you won something that a lot of people would like to put their names on.”

While Bourdais proved in that 2022 race that it is possible to recover from a mistake and still win at Long Beach, the following year he felt the other side of the coin, crashing at the start with a braking issue in the No. 01 Cadillac V-Series.R. Toward the end of the race, Ricky Taylor crashed trying to take the lead back from the No. 6 Porsche Penske Motorsports 963 following a bad pit stop for Taylor’s No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Acura ARX-06. Both drivers know how Long Beach can bite.

“It’s so unforgiving with the walls and the way the competition, the race, kind of plays out,” said Taylor, a three-time winner at Long Beach with brother Jordan. “It’s really intense. You come off of the first few races of the season really relaxed and sort of building into the race, where this one from first practice you already have to be on top of your game. Qualifying is the most important of the year and then starting the race … you can’t give anybody an inch. It’s a really difficult one. It means a lot to us, especially since being with Acura.”

The WTRAndretti team car, the No. 40 with Jordan Taylor and Louis Deletraz, are in a tie for the GTP championship after the team’s victory in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with an assist from Colton Herta. The 24 Hours of Daytona winning team, the No. 7 PPM 963 with the full-season pairing of Dane Cameron and Felipe Nasr, join them in the points lead at 706 as both teams look to break the tie. With a tough Sebring race, the No. 31 Whelen Cadillac Racing squad of Pipo Derani and Jack Aitken have a big gap to close from third in the points.

The other class running at Long Beach – paddock and pit space preclude including all four classes – is GT Daytona (GTD). Without GTD PRO mixed in, who a driver is racing with becomes much clearer and a bit simpler.

“It is nice to have a buffer like a GTD PRO car – we had it at Sebring early on,” said Frankie Montecalvo, driver of the No. 12 Vasser Sullivan racing Lexus RC F GT3. “But at the same time, everyone’s pushing so hard, they’re gonna force the issue, even if it’s not a class car, to get in front of you, so I feel like it simplifies it. Everyone in your mirrors is for position. Everyone in your mirror is for a podium, potentially.”

Winward Racing’s Russell Ward and Philip Ellis will likely leave Long Beach with the championship lead, as they have a big buffer thanks to winning the first two races of the season. But they’ll certainly be looking for victory in the No. 57 Mercedes AMG. Chasing them in the points are Adam Adelson and Elliot Skeer (second in the points is the Michelin Endurance Cup-only Cetilar Racing team that will not race at Long Beach). The rookies from Wright Motorsports have been a surprise in the No. 120 Porsche 911 GT3 R and have a big gap to the effectively-third-place team in the championship, Andretti Motorsports with Jarett Andretti and Gabby Chavez, also in a Porsche. Winward has 725 points to 570 for Wright and 484 for Andretti. The maximum potential point swing with 20 entries is 264.

The IMSA WeatherTech Championship teams are often the first on track Friday morning, making that first of only two practice sessions rather difficult on a green track. This year’s schedule has another group ahead of them, which may make the track more similar to what they’ll face during the rest of the weekend. Two test sessions on Friday precede qualifying at 5 p.m. local time, 8 p.m. ET. Qualifying will be broadcast on and on Peacock.

Saturday’s 1h40m race is scheduled for a 4:35 p.m ET green flag, with the live broadcast on USA Network and the Peacock stream beginning at 4:30. Commentary on all sessions can be found on IMSA radio, at and