The Long Beach Grand Prix has been synonymous with Toyota for its entire history. But that’s now coming to an end.
Motorsport.com reports that the Japanese manufacturer has ceased its partnership with the SoCal race after 44 years as its title sponsor – a decades-long run that’s said to be the longest-running in all of motorsports.
The Los Angeles-area race dates back to 1975 when it first ran as a Formula 5000 event. It became the United States Grand Prix (West) when Formula One provided the principal action from 1976 through 1983, after which it became a mainstay on a succession of IndyCar calendars from 1984 through to the present day.
All the while, Toyota has remained its title sponsor – even though it didn’t actively compete in the main event for most of its history. It has, however, provided the machinery for the Pro-Celebrity race since 1977.
“We have had a phenomenal relationship with Toyota for 44 years, a record in the racing world. “In recent discussions however, Toyota elected not to continue as the title sponsor,” said Jim Michaelian, head of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, according to Motorsport.com. “This has now opened up the opportunity to identify a new title partner. Coming off a very successful 44th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, we’re excited about the future and are exploring all possible sponsorship opportunities that might exist in the market.”
Toyota isn’t the first Japanese automaker to end its sponsorship of a major California racing fixture in recent months. Mazda similarly culminated its relationship with Laguna Seca at the end of last year, with WeatherTech springing up to take its place. Here’s hoping the Long Beach organizers can find a similarly suitable replacement for Toyota’s patronage to support the event for the next 44 years.