Does NASCAR have Long Beach in its sights?

With NASCAR’s latest visit to Southern California being spoken of as its final appearance at the Los Angeles Coliseum, could the 49-year-old Long Beach Grand Prix be the next target for America’s most popular racing series?

Multiple sources tell RACER that NASCAR has been actively pursuing the 50-percent stake in the Long Beach race — a staple on the IndyCar calendar since 1984 — that became available for acquisition last year by the estate of the late businessman Kevin Kalkhoven.

Founded by Chris Pook and the late racing legend Dan Gurney in 1975 as a Formula 5000 event, the Long Beach Grand Prix earned international acclaim as a stop on the Formula 1 tour from 1976-1983 before a financial dispute saw F1 exit and the former CART IndyCar Series take control the following year. Outside of the Indianapolis 500, Long Beach serves as the largest and most successful event on the IndyCar schedule.


Kalkhoven purchased the event in the 2000s in a 50-50 partnership with his friend and former Champ Car series owner and entrant Gerald Forsythe through Aquarium Holdings, LLC, and after Kalkhoven’s passing in 2022, his half of the race eventually went to market.

Asked if it was attempting to become the co-owner of the Long Beach race, NASCAR declined to offer details on the topic.

“The Southern California market is extremely important to NASCAR,” Ben Kennedy, NASCAR’s SVP of racing development and strategy, told RACER. “We have explored several different options in the area, and will continue to do so. I won’t speak specifically to any particular racetrack in Southern California, but will say that if we had our druthers, we would have a race in Southern California every year.”

Grand Prix Association of Long Beach president Jim Michaelian, who manages the event, shared a similar take.

“I’m not in a position to comment on anything regarding a sale,” he told RACER. “I’ve not been notified that that portion of ownership has been taken by anything. It’s between Kevin Kalkhoven’s estate and any potential buyer.”

Where the story takes an interesting turn is with the other entity that has entered the conversation.

Many of the same sources tell RACER that Penske Entertainment, owners of the NTT IndyCar Series, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the promoter of other events on its schedule, is trying to block NASCAR’s efforts.

Those sources suggest the company owned by Roger Penske, whose team won the most recent NASCAR Cup Series championship with Ryan Blaney, is attempting to thwart NASCAR’s Long Beach move by making a bid of its own to buy Kalkhoven’s share.

In a February 29 email outreach to Penske Entertainment on whether the company is pursuing an ownership stake in the Long Beach Grand Prix, Alex Damron, its VP of communications, responded to RACER by saying, “We have no comment on the matter.”

Speaking directly to a question of whether he could offer an upgrade to the company’s previous answer to the subject in an interview last weekend at The Thermal Club, Penske Entertainment CEO Mark Miles smiled, held firm to the previous response, and said, “I don’t have a comment.”

The next running of the Long Beach Grand Prix takes place April 19-21.

Story originally appeared on Racer