The Long Beach Grand Prix is one of the busiest times of the year for the Long Beach marinas. The three day event takes over the downtown area of Long Beach, including the Shoreline Marina and Rainbow Harbor. During this time, several streets are closed off during the race, and also during “Press Day”, which is usually the Tuesday before the race. During these closures, no vehicles will be allowed in the marinas unless they have a marina issued parking pass, which is only available to permanent slip holders and their guests. There are Marine Bureau employees and LBPD officers staffed at various entrance points around the marinas directing traffic and controlling vehicle access. Vehicles entering the marinas will be directed to drive down Shoreline Dr. and then onto Alamitos Beach and through the Marina Green parking lot. Parking during this time is extremely impacted, and temporary paper parking passes are not issued by the Shoreline office or Rainbow Harbor office, so carpooling is a must. Another thing to keep in mind is that Rainbow Harbor/Marina is technically part of the Grand Prix circuit, so a ticket is needed to even get to the restaurants in Shoreline Village. No tickets are sold by the marinas. Grand Prix guest slips are also at a premium this weekend, and reservations, especially at Rainbow Harbor, are difficult to come by.
Shoreline Village and the Marina Green parking lot become spectator areas during the Grand Prix. Grand stands, food trucks, and other restaurant booths take over the grassy area at the Marina Green, while rides and vendors set up in the Shoreline Village parking lot. The bars and restaurants in Shoreline Village are open during the Grand Prix, and are jam packed from the time the Grand Prix starts until it ends. The restaurants all have extra security and their own wristbands to control the amount of people coming and going. Tickets are required to access any of these, though.
Usually, getting a guest slip at Rainbow Harbor is a pretty simple and straightforward process. Call in, provide your paperwork and payment, and get your slip. But, during the Grand Prix, everything changes. Reservations for Long Beach Grand Pix guest slips starts far earlier than the usual 30 day window. On January 2nd, at 9am, the Rainbow Harbor office starts taking names on the Grand Prix list for guest slips. This list, however, does not guarantee a slip. It merely gives you a better chance at securing one. Instead of simply booking open slips and the Pine Ave. Pier, the marina office will also use Dock 8 (the public dock inside the marina) and some of the slips belonging to commercial operators inside the Fishbowl (Rainbow Marina). The slip fees are also increased during the event, going up to $6.00/ft (as of 2016), with a three day minimum; this means that a 30′ would be charged $540 for the slip for the weekend. Requests for certain slips or areas of the marina will try to be honored, but it is not always possible. If you have a specific area or dock you want to be in, it is highly recommended you show up as early as possible on January 2nd to get a place in line; it is not uncommon for people to start showing up at 5am or sooner to get their usual spot. Dock space along Dock 8 and slips on SHM-4 (the dock closest to the Yardhouse and Tequila Jack’s) are always the first to go, so if you have your eye on those areas you would need to line up in the wee hours of the morning to secure them.
Once you have put your name on the list, the marina office will give you a call when they start booking, which is usually in mid-February. If you do not have a slip request, the marina will assign a slip based on your length and beam, and will ask for the paperwork for your vessel, plus a special packet that will need to be signed, including the Grand Prix guest slips rules. The rules simply reiterate the marina regulations, such as a ban on open containers on the docks, live bands, and nudity. Once the office has received your paperwork and signed packet, they will need payment, and ask how many wristbands and gate/restroom keys you will need. The key deposits increase to $100/key for the event, instead of the usual $50. The wristbands, keys, and your receipt (no parking passes are issued) will be available for pickup in the office a week or two before the race if you want to pick them up early. Or, the packets can also be dropped off to our vessel during the race, but marina employees aren’t always immediately available so there may be a wait for your wristbands and keys. Please note that no tickets are sold by the marinas, and the fees paid are simply for the dock space. Tickets are sold separately by the Long Beach Grand Prix.
Security for the marina during the Grand Prix is very tight, and controlling the number of people on the docks is a priority for the marina and police department. In order to prevent over crowding on the docks, every boatowner in Rainbow Harbor will be issued a certain number of wristbands for themselves and their guests for the Long Beach Grand Prix. Without these wristband and a ticket, they will not be allowed on the docks in the marina. WRISTBANDS ARE REQUIRED FOR EVERY PERSON ON THE DOCK. Each boatowner is also responsible for their wristbands and their guests. If a person is causing trouble on the docks during the Long Beach Grand Prix, it might also jeopardize the boatowner’s slip rental. In the Grand Prix guest slips rules packet that is signed, it states that the marina may revoke a rental and keep any fees paid if the renter or any of their guests violate any of the rules or regulations.
The number of wristbands given out are based on the size of the vessel. This is a hard cap, and once the maximum number of wristbands is given out for a particular boat, no more will be issued. Each wristband comes with a serial number that corresponds to the boatowner it was given to, so the marina can track not only how many are given out, but also which slips have had guests escorted out of the marina.
These wristbands are single use only wristbands. They cannot be switched between different people, and are different colors each day. The Long Beach Marine Patrol will have officers staffed at the gate entrances checking wristbands, and any that look like they have been tampered with will be confiscated.
The process for getting Grand Prix guest slips are the Shoreline Marina is almost the same as any other time of year. Reservations can only be made 30 days in advance, and they will need all the required paperwork. The only differences are the fee goes up to $6.00/ft/night with a three night minimum, and the Grand Prix guest slips packet also needs to be signed. No parking passes will be given out for guests. Slips are easier to get here for the Grand Prix, so if you are looking for a slip last minute, the Shoreline Marina might have one available.
During the Grand Prix, on-site parking is only available for boatowners who have a permanent (year round) slip in the Long Beach marinas. No parking passes are given out to guest slips or guest of the boatowners. The Grand Prix Association has a limited number of parking passes for sale on their website, but those go very quickly. The businesses around the downtown area rent out their parking lots for the weekend, but fees can range anywhere from $15-$40 to park. Even then, the walk can be as long as a half a mile or more to get to the track. One option people may not think of is parking across town and using the water taxis. The AquaLink and AquaBus both run during the Grand Prix, and have pick ups outside of the marina. The AquaLink picks up at Alamitos Landing and the Belmont Pier, and the AquaBus picks up at the Queen Mary. If you are not planning on staying all night, you can park at any of the pick up sites (street parking is free around the Belmont Pier, and marina parking is free until 10pm at Alamitos Landing) and take the water taxi over! Parking is much cheaper (or even free), and the only fee would be for the ride over!