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Long Beach

United States
Long Beach, California

The once seedy Long Beach has become a thriving, modern town since racing started here in 1975. After a trial Formula 5000 event, promoter Chris Pook attracted the Formula 1 World Championship to the United States Grand Prix West (a cumbersome title that was soon dropped). Clay Regazzoni won that first F1 race but he was badly injured at Long Beach four years later. The rising costs of playing host to the F1 circus led to a switch to the Champ Car World Series in 1984. Subsequent years were dominated by the Andretti family and Al Unser jr, whose six wins included four in succession. City redevelopment has gradually shortened the course, so that since 2000 Long Beach has essentially been two parallel straights joined by tight and twisting corners at each end. It was here that the last Champ Car race was held in 2008 and it remains a crowd-puller on the Indycar calendar. It is significant that the popularity of Grand Prix racing in North America began to fade when this race was lost to Champ Cars.