18 Apr 19
There’s a new kid on the block and he fits right in! The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach is a new title signifying a new era. But even though the name has changed, the excitement of the event — held last weekend, hasn’t.
Opening ceremonies included a sky diver displaying the American flag. There was a beautiful rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner,” with a pair of Jets doing a flyover immediately following. Wow, that got your heart beating.
In greeting fans, Mayor Robert Garcia noted that the Grand Prix is the largest event in Long Beach and has been for 45 years. Jim Michaelian, president and CEo of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach mentioned that in all that time, it’s never rained on the final day of the races.
These were the go-to events during the Grand Prix.
Keesal, Young & Logan
Getting your engines started, the pre-race party at Keesal, Young & Logan began with mimosas and a photo op next to a race car. Red carnation florals, tires, checkerboard flags, old-time miniature gas pumps and gracious personnel greeted the 500 guests at every turn. The crowd found that, “If you’re not eating, you’re talking!” There were Eggs Benedict, scrambled eggs with bacon, lox and bagels, and lots of pastry calories available.
Then it was off to the races. Lively music filled the dance floor in the post-race party, with three bars that kept the enthusiasm and energy flowing. There were food options in abundance, with an Asian-themed station, a pub-themed station and a taco bar, presented by Chef Mauricio Perez and sous chef Obed Moreno. Every detail choreographed by event coordinator Richard Brown.
The city was well-represented by the mayor (with Sharon Weissman) and Councilmembers Rex Richardson, Lena Gonzalez, Daryl Supernaw, Jeannine Pearce and Al Austin; City Manager Pat West, City Attorney Charles Parkin and Terese; police Chief Robert Luna and his family, Celine and son Jonah; Randy Fudge; Planning Commissioner Josh LaFarga; Harbor Commissioner Lou Anne Bynum and Reggie Harrison; and Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell.
Seen at the scene: Race car driver Oriol Servia; hosts Skip and Beth Keesal; co-hosts from HCVT Blake Christian, Victor and Lisa Gonzalez; Mike and Stacey Held, James Sullivan, Qiang Wang, Mitch Wang, Jim DeVeau, Mike Yusko, Rob Mitchell, Kimball Wasick, Mike Walter, Graham and Cindy Vanhegan, Steve Meck, Naomi Rainey-Pierson, Scott McCallister, Rick Yelton, Becky Cool, Paul Snell, Lisa Swanson, Matt Rezvani and Mershad Khazari, John and Liz Hancock, Bonnie and Josh Lowenthal, Evan Braude, Jim Preusch, Steve Young, Stephen Keesal, Katherine Keesal, Terry Ross, Bob Stemler, Jodi Cohen, Kelli Gardener (and Kimm), Ed Wilson, Carmen Perez, Dawna and Gary DeLong, Larry Forrester, Dennis Lord, Art and Diane Levine, Steve Chesser, Rae and Guy Gabelich.
Pit Row Suite
The Prix Foundation board from left: Jeremy Harris (LB Chamber president-elect), Matt Fischer, President Rick DuRee, Harry Saltzgaver, DeeDee Rossi and Dan Gooch. (Courtesy of Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach)
It’s really exciting to see the pit row crew refuel and change four tires in mere seconds. It seems hard to believe until you see it. The suite has the best seats in the house as the race unfolds. Superior culinary delights await the guests, including lobster and filet mignon, along with many other temptations — including a dessert bar.
Seen at the scene: Jim and Mary Michaelian; Councilwoman Suzie Price and her son Mark; Councilman Roberto Uranga and his wife, Tonya; Councilman Dee Andrews and Maxine; Dave Pasant, Gail and Jim Gray, Charlie Beirne, Don and Cindy Rodriguez; and the Grand Prix Foundation board: President Rick DuRee, Harry Saltzgaver, DeeDee Rossi, Jeremy Harris (Chamber of Commerce president-elect), Dan (with Desiree) Gooch, and Matt and Andrea Fischer (she was due to deliver their baby the next day – guaranteed to be a future fan!).
New name – same party! More than 2,000 enthusiastic race fans joined the Committee of 300 at their compound formerly known as the Paddock Club. The “red coats,” as C- 300 volunteers are known, have been with the Grand Prix since its inception. They can be seen all around the race circuit — in the grandstands, the press area and information tables providing hospitality to race- goers.
Ken Kern and Anthony Gonzalez in back, Dodie Soto, Chairman Phyllis Covey, Patty Maude, Cheryl LeMmon, Trase Waller, Judie Johnsen. (Courtesy of Committee of 300)
The party tent was crowded all weekend, as dancers enjoyed the music of local popular bands King Salmon, Larry Bustamante & Friends, Trish, Buzzy and Boys, After Party, Surfs Up and Angelo Moore of Fishbone funk metal band. Coming back for another year, the Sultans Car Club wowed race fans with their classic car exhibition. Appetites were satisfied with hearty fare catered by Country Gardens. The club also featured closed-circuit TV and a full bar.
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Seen at the scene: President Dianne McNinch, incoming President Nury Curtis, past Presidents Peter Holman, Derek Brown, Julie Nemechek, Vivian Tondreault, Lisa Viets, Mark Gray, Rich Carry, Dian Morris, Dennis Pitts. Perennial Event Chair Phyllis Covey was assisted by daughter Trase’ Waller, Cheryl Lemmon, Patti Maude, Judie Johnsen, Kelly Stortz, Ken and Dodie Kern; and Anthony Gonzalez, with Archie Dani and Josh Bynum, marketing and social media gurus, along with a live stream by Ed Lawrence of BayStream Media.
Grand Prix Foundation Monte Carlo Night
Leading up to race day, there was another exciting event, the Grand Prix Foundation Monte Carlo Night, held on April 12 at the Renaissance Hotel. The annual event offered blackjack, craps and roulette. Amid the enthusiasm of the 200 or so guests, the winners played for a wide variety of terrific prizes. A special opportunity drawing was held for artist Wyland’s prints and trips to New York and Washington DC. Big winners were Susan Nathon and Bryan Bedoy, who each took home a limited-edition Wyland.
The “cut-up” roulette croupier joined in the fun with the Foundation crew, from left: Phyllis Halliday, Pam Canfield, Stephanie Davis, Cheryl Portugal, Rick DuRee, Gary Halliday. (Courtesy of Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach)
While the decks were shuffled, the dice thrown and the wheels spun, cheers were heard amid the laughter and high energy of the crowd. Keeping that energy surging was delicious food provided by: Phil Trani’s, Ecco’s Pizza, Naples Rib Co., The Corner Bakery, Joe Josts, The Green Olive, Rasselbock Kitchen, Miss Priss Cupcakes and E J Malloys.
A Texas Hold’ em Tournament was held in the next room with 80 poker players. The players left with big smiles, none wider than the winners: Kapilia Abeysekera, first place; second place Dennis Chang and third place Robert Garey. Other players included: Randy Gordon and Nancy Becker, Vali de Vries, Phil Jones, Jim Eaton, Larry Rice, Bob Armstrong, John Freeborn, Matt Simon, Terry and Linda Krieger, Lydia Vincenty-Lowell. Top prizes included Apple iPad, Apple Watch, Apple iPod Speakers, and restaurant gift cards from La Traviata, 555, Picarelli’s, K-Pasta, Enrique’s, and Southwest Airlines gift cards.
Besides a heap of fun, around $25,000 was raised for the foundation’s charitable giving. The foundation is a nonprofit group that raises money for a variety of Long Beach charities and college scholarships.
Seen at the Casino scene: Sponsors were Bob and Pam Funari, Grand Prix Foundation of Long Beach President Rick and Joey DuRee, Master of Ceremonies John Kunkle, Jim and Mary Michaelian, Harry and Maria Saltzgaver, Stephanie Davis, Pam Camfield, Cheryl Portugal, Dan and Desiree Gooch, Gary and Phyllis Halliday, Dave and Tina Leslie, Tim and Janelle Sell, John and Joy Hunter, Jim and Susan Nathon, Rudy and MaryLou LaLonde, Veronica Portugal, Alan and Nancy Calvert, Sandy LoCoco, Ana Sandoval, Jesse DeLeon, Rebecca Nunez, Michelle and Brian Joseph, Connie and John Sziebl, Mary Ellen Mitchell and Kristi Fischer
News of social events with charitable purposes may be sent to Shirley Wild at firstname.lastname@example.org or by fax to (562) 594-9668. Please include a contact phone number. Send high-resolution jpeg photos, by attachment, to email@example.com and include group name and identification of individuals from left. Call Shirley at (562) 594-9468 for more information.
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