The celebrated street race in Southern California has been a staple of the American racing calendar since 1975, when it started out with the bonkers Formula 5000 series. The following year it switched to F1, under whose auspices it ran as the United States Grand Prix West for eight seasons before switching to CART and then to the IndyCar Series of which it is still part today, known since 1986 as the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
There was talk recently of the race switching back to F1 – joining the United States Grand Prix in Austin, TX, and the still-up-in-the-air Grand Prix of America proposed for New Jersey on an expanded F1 calendar – but those prospects have now been dismissed. At least, that is, for now.
In a recent meeting, the Long Beach City Council unanimously voted to extend the contract with the IndyCar Series for a further four years, guaranteeing that methanol will be the fuel of choice for racing around the venerable street circuit at least until 2018. After that, however, all bets are off. According to ESPN, the council has instructed city management to solicit proposals for switching the race to another series after 2018.
That could mean staying with Indy, switching back to F1 or even going with another series entirely. The nascent Formula E championship, for example, is set to race on the streets of Los Angeles next year, but there's no telling how much popularity it could gather in the following years before Long Beach needs to make the call.