SST Long Beach uncertain after IndyCar cancellation

by Justin Nguyen

The SPEED Energy Stadium Super Trucks have raced on the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach since the series’ inaugural season in 2013. However, the streak appears to be coming to an end after Thursday’s announcement that the race in April will be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ruling came from Long Beach mayor Robert Garcia, complying with a California state order that prohibits public gatherings of over 250 people to minimise the risk of the virus spreading.

“In light of today’s announcement from the City of Long Beach prohibiting all large-scale events in the City through April 30, 2020, the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach will not take place as scheduled on April 17-19,” a track statement read. “While we recognize that this is a serious inconvenience for our loyal attendees, sponsors and other clients, nevertheless, this action is consistent with our primary objective of assuring the public’s safety and well-being at our event.

“We are in conversation with the City of Long Beach, various race sanctioning bodies and the Long Beach Convention Center to discuss the viability of rescheduling this event at a later time in the year. If that is not possible, then we look forward to presenting the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 16-18, 2021. Further details about possible refunds or credits will be forthcoming.”

Long Beach hosted the inaugural SST street circuit event in 2013, a race won by former NASCAR driver and current off-road racer Justin Lofton. SST has become a fan favourite in its nine-year history, with the concept of off-road trucks racing on street courses especially appealing to IndyCar Series and Supercars Championship fans, both of which the series regularly plays support to.

In the years since, Long Beach has seen victors like series founder Robby Gordon and two-time champion Matthew Brabham, both of whom hold the most SST wins at the street circuit with three apiece, including splitting the 2019 rounds. Sheldon Creed, the winningest driver in SST history and current NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series driver, swept the Long Beach weekend in 2016. Ex-IndyCar driver E.J. Viso and 2018 championship runner-up Gavin Harlien have won once in 2015 and 2018, respectively.

Although SST has not commented on the matter, series veteran Bill Hynes simply tweeted in response, “SUCKS!!!!!!!”

The Grand Prix of Long Beach, which joins other motorsport events cancelled due to the pandemic like the Australian Grand Prix and various MotoGP and Formula E races, had been scheduled to be the second race of the SPEED Energy Stadium Super Trucks calendar. The trucks’ Australian counterpart Boost Mobile Super Trucks are still scheduled to run their second weekend at Symmonds Plains Raceway on 3–5 April. The two championships began the 2020 season together in late February at the Adelaide 500.

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