The Long Beach Gazette is reporting that the City Council will meet in closed session on Tuesday to discuss whether to put the Grand Prix contract out to tender. The Grand Prix Association of Long Beach has run the race for the last 39 years but its deal with the city lasts only until after the 2015 event. The newspaper says that Bernie Ecclestone has written to Mayor Bob Foster saying that his organization is interested in bidding for the event and has contracted the race’s founder Chris Pook to try to sort out a deal. The Gazette quotes from Ecclestone’s letter which says that “Formula 1 is interested in returning to your city, and we will consider the appropriate entity to make such a bid if you decide to permit such a process”. The agenda for the meeting has been published and will discuss the price and terms of the lease to use Shoreline Drive and surrounding streets and property and lists the parties involved as the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach and the FIA Formula One World Championship. If the council decides to open the bidding process, there will be a public session to confirm the decision.
The Grand Prix Association of Long Beach is owned by Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerry Forsythe, who took control of the business in the same period as they bought Cosworth, in an effort to shore up the Champ Car series, which they also owned.
The Long Beach race – the biggest street race in the United States – began back in the 1970s (after a try out with Formula 5000) as an F1 event but in 1983 Pook switched to Indycars because F1 was asking for too much money.
The issue is complicated a little by the fact that there is a mayoral election coming up. Foster is not standing but has endorsed one of the candidates.