Following a challenging double header event at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Florida, MarcoPolo Motorsports has regrouped for another exciting weekend, racing on the streets of Long Beach, California for the Long Beach Grand Prix.
Driver Nicolai Elghanayan made his street course debut in St. Petersburg, racing the No. 71 KTM X-BOW, and was in contention for a podium finish in race one when an unfortunate mechanical issue resulted in the sports car losing control and hitting the concrete barrier at high speed. The sturdy frame of the KTM X-Bow kept Elghanayan safe, and though the 25 year old racer walked out of his car on his own accord, the damage the car sustained was too much to finish the race weekend. The team at MarcoPolo Motorsports and Muellerized Inc. immediately got to work, preparing the spare car typically used for media rides ready for the second race of the weekend the following morning. The backup KTM X-BOW pulled out of the garage Friday morning and was cleared by the series to race in round two of the weekend.
In the weeks to follow, the long term rebuild continued, and the backup car now exists as a Frankenstein combination of the two machines. Elghanayan and the team completed a test at Willow Springs, extremely satisfied at the performance of the rebuilt KTM X-BOW. Elghanayan then traveled to Long Beach, California to see the temporary street circuit and spend the day giving local media members VIP hot laps on the 1.97 mile course. The car will run on track for all three days of the Grand Prix of Long Beach, and will conclude with round three of the GT4 America championship on Sunday, April 14 at 10:00AM Pacific.
“The car felt amazing,” said Elghanayan. “The entire crew at MarcoPolo Motorsports did an incredible job at St. Petersburg, working around the clock to get us back out there for race two. After the event, they continued to put in countless hours and it’s really paid off. Now that I have a couple laps under my belt at Long Beach, I’m really looking forward to getting this weekend started.”
Before he begins the three day festival of speed, the 25 year old racer will take a visit to the Long Beach Miller Children’s & Women’s hospital, followed by a visit to the Children's Hospital of Orange County later in the month. As a young child, Elghanayan suffered with his own health problems, landing him in the Children’s Hospital of Orange County for an extended period of time. During his stay, his days were brightened by the support of visitors, some even local athletes in town for sporting events.
“I remember what it was like to be young and confined to a hospital,” said Elghanayan. “I remember how much I would look forward to visits like these, providing a great distraction for the day, and also giving me encouragement to keep pushing. It’s the simplest things that can bring a spark of joy to a child, and I want to pass along the kindness that was shown to me.”
In early February, Elghanayan took part in a fundraising event, using his motorsports platform to raise $21,000 for the Children's Hospital of Orange County, auctioning off a VIP race experience and weekend vacation package in downtown Las Vegas.
Now in its 45th year, the Long Beach Grand Prix has become the one of the most exciting weekends of the year, as the streets are shut down in order to build a 1.97-mile temporary racing circuit. The circuit transforms the downtown waterfront into a miniature city of race cars, garages, live music, food trucks, and more.
In addition to visiting the Long Beach Miller Children’s & Women’s hospital before the event action gets underway, Elghanayan will also extend invites to the staff of the Children's Hospital of Orange County, allowing them to enjoy the motorsports action throughout the weekend.
Practice sessions for the Grand Prix of Long Beach begin Friday, April 12th at 3:30PM Pacific, followed by qualifying on Saturday morning at 10:45PM. The 50 minute race will take the green flag on Sunday, April 14th at 10:00AM Pacific. Fans can steam the race live on www.gt4-america.com, or purchase tickets at gplb.com