Will Power has a funny name, one that makes for great headline possibilities. Even though he was the best driver Sunday, he wasn’t the headline in Long Beach.
No, what made this race special is that it was the last Champ Car race ever. Champ Car (formerly CART) has always been somewhat of a niche sport outside of its host cities, including Long Beach. But it survived for 11 years on its own without the more-popular IndyCar drivers, owners and tracks, and for that it earned a unique place in the history of motorsports.
The press room here at Long Beach is in the bottom floor of the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center. You can stay inside, watch the event on TV, and shelter your ears and nose from the pollution/atmosphere outdoors – which I did for the first 82 laps. But as soon as the clock wound down to 0:00 (it’s a timed race), I decided to step outside and watch this niche circuit run out its final lap.
It was no more special than the first 82 laps, no more exhilarating than any of the laps run here since 1975, or any of the laps that will be run here in the future under the IndyCar flag. But it was the last lap ever in Champ Car and, for whatever that’s worth, it was cool to be there.