After having open overpasses that often became clogged with dawdling spectators during the inaugural race, Jones and his crew decided to make them covered bridges beginning with the second running, which opened up a whole new revenue-generation avenue for signage and advertising.
I first got involved with the Long Beach Grand Prix after a phone call from my friend John Queen, who said, “Hey Nate, my son Jack has met this Englishman here in Long Beach who thinks we ought to have a Grand Prix like Monaco going in the streets. You’re a racer, you’re a car guy, bring your checkbook and come down here and listen to this guy’s pitch, because it’s pretty good.” So, I showed up with my checkbook and, long story short, here we are 40 years later, my little founder’s check turned me into the youngest founder in the whole bunch.
The obstacles we faced were huge. Who knew about building a modern racecourse? We had racers like Dan Gurney and Phil Hill who were instrumental to the credibility we were building, but then when you got down to who really knew how to build a temporary racetrack, it was really nobody. So, we started inventing. Gurney laid out the basic circuit, and the next thing you know we’re delegating out responsibilities. Who’s gonna do this, and who’s gonna do that? And someone said, “Hey Nate, you’re a car guy, why don’t you handle the paddocks and all that?” So I got that assignment and I’m still doing it.
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