Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Weekend Schedule: Fan’s View

The IZOD IndyCar series is coming to Southern California for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, happening in the beach-side city on April 13-15. For 38 years the race organizers have presented a great weekend of racing, motorsports fun and also some great music. The 2012 race is no exception, here's a look at the highlights of the three day schedule:

Indy Racing Series Race Car
Gary C Millwater

Friday, April 13

The race weekend kicks off Friday with a series of racing events. IZOD IndyCar fans will want to watch practice, which runs at 10 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. There is a driver autograph session in the IndyCar Paddock at 4 p.m., which is free for all race ticket holders.

The day also features a practice session for the Toyota Pro / Celebrity Race at 11:15 a.m. along with practice sessions for some of the other race series'. The gates open at 7 a.m. and I would check out the Team Drifting Challenge at 9:35 a.m. to get the day started right. The day ends at 6:30 p.m. for the Tecate Light Fiesta Friday Concert with Belanova.

Saturday, April 14

Gate open again at 7 a.m. and there is a Team Drifting Challenge at 8:55 a.m. An IndyCar practice session happens at 10:25 a.m., with IndyCar qualifying at 2 p.m. The Toyota Pro / Celebrity Race, always a fun event, happens at 11:40 a.m. The Tequila Patron American Le Mans Series race happens at 4 p.m. and fans of the ALMS can attend a driver autograph session at 12:30 p.m. in the Lifestyle Expo section of the race. The evening ends with the Tecate Light Rock-N-Roar Concert with one of my favorite rockers, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts at 6:45 p.m.

Sunday, April 15

The gates open at 7 a.m. with an IndyCar practice session at 9:15 a.m., followed by a Firestone Indy Lights Race at 10:45 a.m. The IndyCar race ceremonies get going at 12:30 p.m., with the race start scheduled for 1:10 p.m. After the race, there's a Team Drifting Challenge at 3:30 p.m., followed by the Pirelli World Challenge Race at 4:15.

Travel Tip

If you're not staying in Long Beach, the Blue Line train connects Long Beach with Downtown Los Angeles. It's fast and convenient, making it easy to stay in Los Angeles, and travel to Long Beach for the race, then return later. Long Beach has a great selection of bars and restaurants, most right along Pine Avenue, for post-race partying.

A lifetime auto racing fan, Freddy Sherman collects vintage muscle cars and attends races and rally events in the U.S. and around the world. You can follow him on twitter - @thefredsherman.

More from this contributor:

Will Formula 1 Drop Australia? Fan's Opinion

Formula 1 Grand Prix Race Sponsors: Fan's View

How Can Formula 1 Get More American Fans? Fan's View

Note: This article was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Sign up here to start publishing your own sports content.

Updated Wednesday, Mar 28, 2012