LONG BEACH, Calif. —  After a long hiatus, Long Beach is welcoming competitive racers and their fans once again, giving a jolt to the usual flow of traffic and business.

As the sole employee of Bmore Protein Pub in downtown Long Beach, owner Rodrigo Inacio only has his wife to help him set up for the day. Both came from Florida after hurricanes decimated his first business. This second try on the West Coast was met with a different kind of disaster, COVID-19, which is only ever so slowly releasing its iron grip on his bottom line.

What You Need To Know

  • The Acura Grand Prix begins September 24 in downtown Long Beach

  • Many local business owners are looking forward to a financial boost brought on by the crowds the race attracts

  • Attendees must show proof of vaccination or bring a recent, negative COVID test
  • Rapid, pop-up testing booths are set up at the major entryways

“It feels good to see, you know, the city just reopening and people walking around with less fear,” Inacio said.

Inacio is looking forward to the added rush that’s sure to come with the Acura Grand Prix.

Just a few blocks down Ocean Boulevard, the owner of Modica’s Deli, Orsa Modica has already kicked it into high gear. That’s because she’s running the catering for four of the race teams.

In anticipation she’s extending her hours of operation and hiring extra staff.

“It’s overwhelming. I just feel blessed especially after the pandemic,” said Modica.

With upwards of 10,000 people expected, it’s appropriate to call the race a mega event, a term which brings new safety protocols. Attendees must wear masks as well as show proof of vaccination or a recent, negative COVID test.

The President of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach Jim Michaelian helped install pop-up testing sites near the major entryways.

“There were a few people that expressed concern about it and asked for refunds or credits, but that number has diminished to practically zero now,” said Michaelian.

Michelle Heredia got a test before the event because she is unvaccinated and plans to work in the ticketing department.

“I personally don’t believe that people just because they choose to be unvaccinated should be shunned and not allowed to participate in anything so I don’t have a problem taking the test,” said Heredia.

Regardless of vaccination status, there’s a way for everyone to come.

“I believe it’s going to be something really positive, pretty much looking forward to it,” Inacio said.

As the racers start their engines, this restaurateur hopes for a turbo boost.