After leading for fifty laps of the eighty lap Toyota Grand Prix at Long Beach on Sunday, Takuma Sato became the first Japanese driver ever to win an IndyCar championship race. Driving the #14 car for AJ Foyt Racing, Sato crossed the finish line ahead of Graham Rahal, with Justin Wilson, Dario Franchitti and JR Hildebrand taking third, fourth and fifth places. Sato started the race in fourth position and clocked up an average speed of 85.763 mph, scoring 53 points for the race. In a post-race interview Sato noted that it had been a perfect weekend, commending his team for doing a tremendous job and saying that he had been comfortable in the car and was able to “push everything”.
Born in Toyko in January 1977, Takuma Sato started his racing career on two wheels, winning a number of national junior championships for bicycle racing. He was 19 when he starting karting in Japan, moving up into the All-Japan Formula Three Championship for part of a season before moving to England in 1998 in pursuit of a European racing career. After competing in the British Formula Three Championship for two full seasons during which time he won the championship in 2001, Sato graduated to Formula One in 2002, enjoying a measure of success during his seven years, but losing his seat when Super Aguri withdrew from F1 due to financial difficulties. Sato signed with KV Racing Technology, driving for the team in both 2010 and 2011, finishing the season 21st and 13th respectively. In 2012 he drove for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, finishing 14th for the season, and signed with AJ Foyt’s team for 2013.
The current top five in the 2013 IndyCar Championship are Helio Castroneves (99 points); Takuma Sato (93 points); Scott Dixon (89 points); Marco Andretti (87 points); and Justin Wilson (81 points). The next IndyCar Series event is the Sao Paulo Indy 300 in Sao Paulo, Brazil – the home country of Helio Castroneves.
After a lot of reorganizing in seems the IndyCar Series is getting ready for a great season next year. They recently announced their 2009 schedule, which not only featured eighteen different races, but revealed two exciting new racetrack venues. The changes extend the championship by an entire month and will no doubt prove to be very popular with auto racing fans.
The 2009 IndyCar Series schedule promises to offer drivers and fans one of the most diverse ranges of challenges in motor sports. The new schedule not only features 10 oval races, but also includes three permanent road circuits and five temporary courses. Many of the venues are not new to the IndyCar Series as they hosted the event this year, but there are two new venues to look forward to. The exciting action will start on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, on April 5 – giving the 2009 season a great kick off. After that it will be moving to the Streets of Long Beach where the IndyCar Series will be making its debut at a venue that has already hosted F1, CART and Champ Car races during the course of its 35 year history. The series will then move from street circuits to ovals for a while, starting with the Kansas Speedway on April 26. It will go on to be hosted at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, The Milwaukee Mile, The Texas Motor Speedway, the Iowa Speedway, the Richmond International Raceway, the Watkins Glen International, the Streets of Toronto, the Edmonton City Center Airport and the Kentucky Speedway. The races at the Texas Motor Speedway, the Richmond International Raceway and the Kentucky Speedway will all take place at night, giving the season’s program even more variation.
The action will then move on to two road courses – the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and the Infineon Raceway, before hitting the Chicagoland Speedway for another great night race. After that it’s off to The Raceway at Belle Isle Park, a brilliant 2.906-mile street course, before returning to oval racing at the 1.5-mile Twin Ring Motegi. The exciting season of racing will conclude at the Homestead-Miami Speedway and will take place on October 11. No doubt the 2009 racing season will provide fans with all the fun and excitement that they have come to expect from the IndyCar Series and we look forward to the new season with pleasure. However fans should note that venues may still be subject to change.
Because of the signing of an agreement on 22 February 2008, by the Indy Racing League, so as to unify open-wheel racing, this year will be the last time fans will see their turbocharged Champ Cars of up to eight hundred horse power perform. And as one era draws to a close, the organizers of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach have vowed to make this year a racing extravaganza of spectacular proportions. It will reflect back on the memorable moments and drivers that have made the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach a favorite racing event for twenty-five years.
Long Beach, in Southern California, staged its first Formula One Grand Prix on 26 March 1977, through the efforts of Chris Pook. The travel agent and dedicated racing enthusiast hosted a Formula 5000 race eighteen months prior to the Grand Prix, which successfully drew a crowd of forty six thousand spectators. It was a tremendously nerve wrecking time for Pook, who was unsure if he could draw the U.S. Grand Prix race to Long Beach. With a little help, he managed to get the race, and brought the legendary battle between Mario Andretti, Jody Scheckter and Niki Lauda to thousands of spectators and millions of fans across the world.
Other big names in racing, such as Nelson Piquet, Gilles Villeneuve, Jacques Laffite, Alan Jones, Carlos Reutemann, Eddie Cheever and Emerson Fittipaldi, also thrilled the crowds over the following years. In 1984, an agreement was signed for Champ Cars, and in the beginning of this new venture no-one was sure if the race would attract spectators and give them the same racing experience as the Formula One racing did. But again, Mario Andretti climbed behind the wheel, and the crowds went wild. And while the face of Champ Car racing might be changing, Long Beach will always be host to this magnificent event.
Over and above three days of spectacular racing, which takes place between the 18th and the 20th of April 2008, the 34th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is set to have an action packed program lined up. Features, such as the Lifestyle Expo will have exhibitors, retail vendors, a family zone filled with simulators, video arcade, games and race cars, with the Expo Arena being the scene of professional skateboarders, bicycle tricksters and motorcyclists. The Support Series Garages at the expo will allow fans to watch cars being repaired, and even catch a glimpse of their favorite driver.
As a street racing event, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach has become legendary in this category and will continue to bring the excitement and action of racing to the city, and its faithful fans.