2023 Motorsports Walk of Fame
The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach has long been more than just a race to drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe. Hunter-Reay, who won the race in 2010, calls it the “cornerstone” of his career, while Hinchcliffe, who triumphed in 2017, says it’s simply his “favorite” race. Now, both are set to become permanent, concrete–literally–parts of the event when they are inducted into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame, Thursday, April 13.
Hinchcliffe, a Canadian, called the honor “huge,” so big, in fact, that he said “I thought Jim had the wrong email,” when notified of it by Grand Prix Assn. of Long Beach President and CEO Jim Michaelian.
“This race is one of my favorites, if not the favorite, on the calendar and has been for a long, long time,” said Hinchcliffe, who not only went on to become an INDYCAR commentator for NBC, but placed second on Dancing with the Stars. “It’s a huge, huge honor. Winning Long Beach in 2017 was a really special moment.”
After his 2010 victory at Long Beach, Hunter-Reay, from Florida, later won the 2012 INDYCAR SERIES championship as well as 2014 Indianapolis 500 during an outstanding career that spanned 19 seasons and included 18 wins and 72 top-five finishes.
“The Grand Prix of Long Beach has essentially been a cornerstone of my racing career,” he said. “What an honor it is to be inducted into the Walk of Fame. It’s the best all-around street course in the world, no doubt.”
The race holds a special place for Hunter-Reay that goes beyond the track itself. He became engaged to his wife, Beccy, during the 2009 race weekend. He dedicated his 2010 victory to his mother, Lydia, who lost her battle with cancer in late 2009.
“Long Beach was her favorite race of the season,” Hunter-Reay said.
The Walk of Fame is a joint project of the City of Long Beach and the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach and new members are added every year during Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach week. Created in 2006 to honor key contributors to the sport of auto racing including the likes of Dan Gurney, Phil Hill and Mario Andretti, people Hinchcliffe called “some of my heroes.”