These articles originally on Rahal.com.
The 2016 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (TGPLB) marks the 17th time for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) to compete in the event. Although the team didn’t compete in Indy car races here from 2004-2011 while they fielded a fulltime entry in the Indy Racing League (2004-2008), they did compete in the 2003 and 2004 Atlantic races with Danica Patrick and in the 2007 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race. In 2009, the team returned to the streets of Long Beach in the ALMS with BMW Team RLL and has finished on the podium each year since then which makes Long Beach the most successful venue for the team in the current WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Since its inaugural season in 2009, the team has not failed to finish the race without at least one car on the podium at Long Beach. The team has won the race three times (2011, 2013 and 2015).
In their 16 previous Indy car races in Long Beach, the team entered 28 cars for drivers such as Bobby Rahal (1992-1998), Mike Groff (1994), Raul Boesel (1995), Bryan Herta (1996-1999), Max Papis (1999-2001), Kenny Brack (2000-2001), Jimmy Vasser (2002), Jourdain (2002-2003), Takuma Sato (2012), Graham Rahal (2013-2015), James Jakes (2013), Mike Conway (2013) and Oriol Servia (2014). In total, the team won three poles (Herta 1998, Vasser 2002, Jourdain, Jr. 2003); made five front row starts including an all-Team Rahal front row in 1998 (2nd – Rahal 1998, Brack 2001); earned their best finish of second place four times (Rahal 1992-1993, Vasser 2002, G. Rahal 2013) and earned six podiums (2nd – Rahal 1992-1993, Vasser 2002 & G. Rahal 2013; 3rd – Herta 1998-1999).
PennGrade Motor Oil Livery with AERO™ ultra durable film-based paint applique
The 2016 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (TGPLB) will mark the first race for PennGrade as the primary sponsor of an Indy car. Graham is excited to debut the new AERO™ Advanced Paint Technology sponsor scheme that features chrome, black and red accents on the No. 15 entry.
"I’m thrilled to run the PennGrade Motor Oil livery in Long Beach. The car is so cool looking, and for me it’s just going to be a lot of fun to get out there and drive it. PennGrade has been a tremendous partner of our team since last year and I am very excited to see what happens with the brand going forward.”
This will be Graham’s 10th Champ or Indy car race here, 11th overall, and fourth for his father’s team. In 2015, he qualified eighth in Long Beach but struggled in the race and finished 11th. In 2014, he finished seventh after struggling in practice and qualifying 23rd. In 2013, he finished second after starting 11th with RLL. In 2012, he qualified 15th for Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing (SCCGR), started 8th due to penalties to Chevy-powered teams, ran as high as fourth but finished 24th due to contact with Marco Andretti. In 2011, he qualified 16th for SCCGR and finished 13th. In 2010 he started and finished 22nd for Sarah Fisher Racing after contact. In 2009, he started seventh and finished 12th for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR). In 2008 he started ninth and had a podium in sight when he was alongside third place but contact during this pass led to a 13th place finish for NHLR. Started fifth in 2007 but the pit strategy of others and slow fuel flow related to teething problems for the all-new Panoz Champ Car on two stops limited his finish to eighth place for NHLR. In the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Series race here he started seventh and finished fifth.
“I have high hopes for the race, but I always do,” said Rahal, who is ranked seventh in series standings with 44 points. “I think the team deserves a good result in Long Beach and we are working hard to be the best we can for this championship. It’s always a very tough race so I expect a lot of action and entertainment, but hope we can just stay out of trouble and keep clean. My past results have been up and down. We have been good there but also had some bad luck and self-induced issues. We will try our best this year to pick up a victory in Long Beach rather than a Rahal finishing second there, which has happened a lot!”
“The entire course is challenging, I don’t know that there is anything about it that isn’t. Passing opportunities at Long Beach are the usual places: Turn 1, and the two back straights. I fully expect to see more passing this year with the new push to pass and more entertainment.”
BMW Team RLL – Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix At Long Beach Preview
BMW Team RLL has had more success at Long Beach than any other venue that has played host to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Since its inaugural season in 2009, the team has not failed to finish the race without at least one BMW on the podium at Long Beach. The Bobby Rahal-led team has won the race three times; once with the BMW M3 in 2011 and twice with the BMW Z4, in 2013 and 2015.
The Long Beach contest sets a much different stage than the season’s opening 36 hours of combined racing at Daytona and Sebring. Long Beach is a street course, only 1.968 miles long and, at 100 minutes long, is the shortest race of the season.
BMW Team RLL is looking to the race at Long Beach to celebrate the first win with the BMW M6 GTLM. Introduced at Rolex 24 at Daytona in January, the two new M6 machines showed strength, but succumbed to teething problems with the No. 25 car finishing fifth. The No. 100 car did not finish. At the 12 Hours of Sebring in mid-March the story was a different one as Bill Auberlen scored the class pole in the No. 25 M6, drove the fastest GTLM lap of the race, and finished second with co-drivers Bruno Spengler and Dirk Werner. The No. 100 M6 finished sixth. Both cars totaled to lead the GTLM class for 35% of the race. After two races, BMW stands third in GTLM manufacturer points.
Auberlen, who makes his home only miles from Long Beach in Redondo Beach, Calif., and season-long teammate Werner are looking to carry the momentum from Sebring and duplicate last season’s Long Beach performance – a win from the pole. The duo stands third in GTLM driver points. Ninth in driver points, Edwards and Luhr have had a tougher start to the season, but the pair only needs to add a bit of luck into the equation to better their results.
This year is a historic one for The Ultimate Driving Machine® as Bavarian Motor Works celebrates its 100th anniversary. To mark the occasion both of the M6 machines will race with unique liveries and numbers significant to the marque. The number 100 M6, with John Edwards and Lucas Luhr, looks forward to BMW’s next century with an artistic theme. The number 25 M6, driven by Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner races in honor of BMW Motorsport’s first season racing in the US in 1975. The car displays images of four significant racing BMWs; the 3.0 CSL, M1, M3 and V12 LMR.
In eight seasons of North American sports car competition, BMW Team RLL has posted 13 victories among 59 podium finishes, winning the American Le Mans Series Manufacturer and Team championships in 2010 and repeating the feat and adding the driver title in 2011. Beginning with the BMW M3 GT2 in 2009, the team successfully introduced the BMW Z4 GTLM in 2013 and expects to continue its winning ways with the BMW M6 GTLM in 2016.
“If you look at our track record in Long Beach, it’s pretty good,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “We’ve been on the podium every year and won three times. I think the pace of the BMW M6 right now is competitive. It’s a big car so it’s going to be interesting to see if that creates any issues in the tight confines of a street circuit. Based on the reliability, performance and pace of the car so far, we should be in the thick of it. We have had some good strategies in place there over the years that have helped us win so I have every reason to believe we can have another good, strong race.”
Bill Auberlen, driver No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM: “Getting the pole and setting the fast lap at Sebring showed the true potential of the new M6. Now we are heading to a race I’ve won twice in the last three years. I have high hopes for bringing BMW their first win with the all new M6.”
Dirk Werner, driver No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM: “I am looking forward to go back to Long Beach after last year’s win. It is a special track with great atmosphere. We will have to see how much our new M6 GTLM likes street courses and sprint races and we will not have a lot of time to tune the setup. But BMW, the team and of course Bill have so much experience that I am confident for a good result.”
John Edwards, driver No. 100 BMW M6 GTLM: “Long Beach will be an interesting race for our M6 since it will be our first street course. BMW had a lot of success with the Z4 on those streets and I’m confident that we have another machine capable of winning its first street race like the Z4 did. Although the M6 is longer than the Z4, the car also has better torque to help us get out of the slow corners, which is key for lap time at Long Beach. Lucas and I have had some bad luck to start the season but the M6 has shown a lot of promise, and I’m excited to start putting in the results that the car deserves.”
Lucas Luhr, driver No. 100 BMW M6 GTLM: “Long Beach is one of the coolest tracks and the venue is very special. It will be the first time for the M6 there but I am sure we will be strong. After the win last year it would be nice to win again in BMW’s 100th year so I’m locking forward to the race. John and I will give 100% to take a good result.”
The Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix At Long Beach takes the green flag at 4:05 p.m. PT Saturday, April 16 with the live broadcast beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 2. Follow BMW Team RLL on Twitter at @BMWUSARacing for “from-the-pit-box” updates all weekend.
BMW Group In America
BMW of North America, LLC has been present in the United States since 1975. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars NA, LLC began distributing vehicles in 2003. The BMW Group in the United States has grown to include marketing, sales, and financial service organizations for the BMW brand of motor vehicles, including motorcycles, the MINI brand, and the Rolls-Royce brand of Motor Cars; DesignworksUSA, a strategic design consultancy in California; a technology office in Silicon Valley and various other operations throughout the country. BMW Manufacturing Co., LLC in South Carolina is part of BMW Group’s global manufacturing network and is the exclusive manufacturing plant for all X5 and X3 Sports Activity Vehicles and X6 and X4 Sports Activity Coupes. The BMW Group sales organization is represented in the U.S. through networks of 340 BMW passenger car and BMW Sports Activity Vehicle centers, 153 BMW motorcycle retailers, 124 MINI passenger car dealers, and 36 Rolls-Royce Motor Car dealers. BMW (US) Holding Corp., the BMW Group’s sales headquarters for North America, is located in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.
The BMW Group
With its three brands, BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce, the BMW Group is the world’s leading premium manufacturer of automobiles and motorcycles and also provides premium financial and mobility services. As a global company, the BMW Group operates 30 production and assembly facilities in 14 countries and has a global sales network in more than 140 countries.
In 2014, the BMW Group sold approximately 2.118 million cars and 123,000 motorcycles worldwide. The profit before tax for the financial year 2013 was euro 7.91 billion on revenues amounting to approximately euro 76.06 billion. As of 31 December 2013, the BMW Group had a workforce of 110,351 employees.
The success of the BMW Group has always been built on long-term thinking and responsible action. The company has therefore established ecological and social sustainability throughout the value chain, comprehensive product responsibility and a clear commitment to conserving resources as an integral part of its strategy.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
BMW’s partner, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, based in Hilliard, Ohio and co-owned by three-time IndyCar Champion and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, former CBS Late Show host David Letterman and Mi-Jack co-owner Mike Lanigan, has been competing for over two decades. Prior to the start of their 25th season of competition in 2016, the team has compiled 37 victories, 49 poles, 144 podium finishes, three series championships (1992, 2010, 2011) and claimed an Indianapolis 500 victory (Buddy Rice in 2004). In 2009 the team joined BMW of North America to campaign the new BMW M3 in the American Le Mans Series. The following year the team won both the Manufacturer and Team Championships in the GT category and swept all three GT titles – Manufacturer, Team and Driver – in 2011. In 2012 the team finished second in the Team Championship and third in the Manufacturer Championship and in 2013, the team finished second in the Driver, Team and Manufacturer Championship. The 2014 season brought a new challenge with the creation of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and the team finished on the podium six times including four second-place finishes. In 2015, the team earned three wins, two poles and a total of eight podium finishes to finish second in the Manufacturer, Team and Driver championships. Prior to the start of the 2016 season BMW Team RLL had won 13 races, 20 poles and 57 podium finishes.
This article has been edited from original copy found on Rahal.com.
Photos courtesy of RLL.