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2009 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

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The 35th annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach roared into town on April 16-19, with household names like Danica Patrick, Will Power and Marco Andretti blazing through the streets in finely-tuned ethanol burning rockets. The turns were tight and the straightaways were fast, which resulted in a few fender-benders and a fiery crash or two.

Along with the world-class Indy Cars there were other races, including the Firestone Indy Lights, Team Drifting, Speed World Challenge and the American Le Mans Series that pits state-of-the-art BMW's, Acuras, Porsches etc. against one another. Huge crowds filled the stands on Sunday for the final event and were treated to some beautiful weather and intense competition as Dario Franchitti's Target car took the big prize.

Female driving sensation Danica Patrick received a lot of interest from the fans and media and managed to come in fourth place among the other superstar competition. Her popularity was displayed by fans wearing her colors and a huge trailer selling her swag exclusively that had fans lining up to take a photo next to her image on the side. One thing about Danica and other Indy Car racers is that they are accessible and very accommodating with the fans, stopping to take photos and sign autographs whenever they mingled among the masses.

Helio Castroneves joined the pack on Saturday for his first race in several months after being acquitted of tax evasion hours earlier.

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Being LAist, we had to check out the food court and it was incredible. Massive hot dogs, pastrami sandwiches and giant portions of curly fries and onion rings kept the crowd well satisfied. With sponsors like Tecate and Patron, you KNOW there was plenty of booze to drink.

For about 200 more race pics from the LBGP, click here.

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