The Grand Prix is going green.
This year’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, racing into Downtown from April 14 to April 16, is the event’s greenest year yet, with sustainability at the forefront of both the Grand Prix and its racing partners’ efforts.
“Sustainability has been a major focus of ours,” said Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach president and CEO Jim Michaelian. “We recognize the fact that not only as an event, but also in conjunction with our sanctioning bodies or vendors, we needed to do something fairly dramatic in terms of addressing this whole issue of what the sport is doing in terms of a sustainability effort.”
This year’s initiatives are a result of two or three years of planning and execution, Michaelian said, and some notable green initiatives include:
- All water from Grand Prix sponsor Pepsi will be served in 100% recyclable aluminum bottles with a BPA-free liner, while sodas will be served in aluminum cans. Single-use plastic bottles are no longer used at the Convention Center or the Grand Prix racetrack.
- Fans will be able to refill their own water containers with filtered, city-sourced water through the City of Long Beach’s “Quench Buggy.”
- Specialized bins around the track will collect recyclable materials such as aluminum cans, plastic and cardboard.
- In conjunction with Safety-Kleen, the Grand Prix recycles oil and petroleum waste from the race cars.
- The Long Beach Convention Center, home of the Lifestyle Expo, generates over 725 kilowatts of power each day from solar panels and has a “cool roof,” new LED lighting which saves more than 62 kilowatt hours annually. Motion sensors are used throughout the facility. Restrooms, meanwhile, use low-gallon-per-flush models, and there are more than 50 recycle bins.
- The Acura Grand Prix encourages race fans to take advantage of Long Beach Transit, Metrolink and the Metro A Line, as well as GoActive LB Hub, where they can safely park and rent bikes, or fans can use taxis or rideshare apps. The official drop-off point is on First Street between Elm and Long Beach Boulevard.
Apart from the Grand Prix’s efforts, the racing organizations themselves have also made substantial green efforts, Michaelian said.
This will be the most sustainable season in IndyCar Series history, as the series and its teams continue to work to develop renewable technologies. This year includes the first use of Shell’s 100% renewable race fuel and continued use of renewable diesel for all IndyCar team transporters supporting the series.
After a debut last August in the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix in Nashville, Tennessee, Firestone Firehawk’s plant-based race tires with a green sidewall, made from sustainable guayule rubber, will also expand to all street circuit races.
“That’s the first step in an attempt on behalf of Firestone to recognize the fact that there needs to be a reduction in the use and byproduct of having a carbon base, regular, normal tire used in racing,” Michaelian said. “That’s a big step for them, and we’ll see how it transpires over the year, but if it works well on the street circuits, we’ll see if there’s adaptation for regular racing circuits.”
One of the most substantial efforts in the sports car series can be seen with IMSA, Michaelian noted. New Grand Touring Prototype cars require the double-stinting of racing tires, which currently contain more than 25% sustainable materials, greatly reducing the sets of tires used during the course of the season.
This year, all Grand Touring Prototype cars will use a hybrid powertrain system coupled with internal combustion engines using a VP Racing Fuels blend that increases from 60% sustainable content initially. Eventually, the fuel will be 100% sustainable, greatly reducing or eliminating greenhouse gas emissions.
“That’s a major investment on behalf of the series, on behalf of the teams, and it represented a large step in terms of the technological elements involved with sportscar racing,” Michaelian said.
Plus, the IMSA Konica Minolta Business Center as well as its at-track business transporter have solar panels that power the units while also providing plug-in Level-2 charging for IMSA’s OEM partners and their vehicles used on site for Hot Laps, media events, product launches and official safety vehicles, among other applications.
While sustainability measures have certainly gained momentum this year, Michaelian said that efforts will be ongoing, and that the Acura Grand Prix is constantly examining what initiatives are forthcoming and can be adopted.
For instance, next year, in 2024, IndyCar will be utilizing a combination of hybrid and gas-powered engines, “so for two years in a row we’ll be introducing a major racing series with hybrid systems,” Michaelian said.
“This is not an ending of the conquest,” he said. “There will be new measures being introduced every year by a variety of our partners, which we’re very delighted that they’re all beginning to focus on this key element in terms of how we make this event more environmentally friendly.”