Long Beach celebrated 30 years of racing on its famous street circuit with a full weekend of fierce competition that included a Champ Car round and the Imperial City Bank Historic Grand Prix.
Rick Knoop’s 1979 Tyrrell 009, the ex-Didier Pironi Candy-sponsored car, dominated practice and the race but only managed to fend off Dino Crescentini’s McLaren M19 by one second in the nine lap race, which included Formula 1, Indy cars and F5000 machines. Crescentini’s ex-Peter Revson McLaren was the oldest—and possibly the least—technically sophisticated car in the field, and his stirring drive made it the race of the day. Bud Moeller, present at Long Beach last year in his Ferrari 312 T5, was running an Ensign F1 car, and finished a good 3rd ahead of Dan Vosloo in the first of the Indy cars. The top three cars were all running Cosworth DFV engines.
Tom Malloy was having a handful all weekend with his potent March 86C Indy car, and it got away from him on the first lap, tipping gently backwards into the tire wall. Malloy’s other vehicle, the Eagle 755 F5000 driven by Vern Schuppan, which appeared at Long Beach for the inaugural race in 1975, had pilot bearing failure in qualifying and started at the back of the grid. Former Le Mans winner Schuppan moved up to 7th, though Doug Mockett, also starting at the back in his 1975 Penske PC3 F1 car, slipped past Schuppan on the final lap. Schuppan ended up the highest placed F5000 finisher.
All in all, 14 of the 15 starters finished in a race that made history by being the first straight confrontation between F1, Indy and F5000 cars—a scenario both the fans and the competitors seemed to want to see again. Engine and mechanical reliability were impressive, considering the hard fought sprint race was run on a tough and demanding street circuit.
Submitted by Ed McDonough