What makes a party special? Is it the venue, the entertainment, the food, the decor, the people? The Long Beach Grand Prix Race Day offers it all!

Party-goers arrive by land and sea to the biggest and the most spectacular fete of all! The staff at Keesal, Young and Logan warmly greet the 900 or so attendees at their gathering in the Union Bank Building, offering mimosas or champagne, along with a commemorative photo with KYL partner Terry Ross, staged by a race car.

Guests are greeted with beautiful displays of tires awash with balloons, oil cans and fresh flowers. Then it’s up to the 13th floor for another photo op with Skip and Beth Keesal and Lisa and Victor Gonzalez. Eggs benedict, waffles, scrambled eggs, bagels and lox, fresh fruit and a whole ton of race anticipation and enthusiasm are on the menu.

Seen at the scene: Assemblyman Isadore Hall; Bruce MacRae (UPS); Judge Judith and Leo VanderLans; Jane Netherton and Tom Ramsey; Dawn McKenna; Bonnie Scott; Becky Blair; John Hancock; Carol Ann Wylie; Dr. Elisa Nichols; Art Levine and Diane; Melissa Murchison; Arline and Mike Walters; David Tong; Sarah Sangmeister; and Rocky and Chantal Suares.
A small hike, clear to the other side of the track, to the Paddock Club of the Committee of 300 found Director Phyllis Covey pleased with the turnout of 500 or so for a day of dancing to the music of Surf’s Up and delicious dining, catered by Jay’s Catering.

The “Paddock Club’s Ladies Powder Room” has been an issue of pride for several years. One might question, “What’s the big deal about WCs?” Ladies know, trust me on this one! Phyllis enlisted the help of CSULB artists Daniel Padran and Walter Mancia (with assist from Janice Chau and Ruth Harman) to paint race theme murals on the walls of both the ladies and gents W. (The Ladies powder room also features checkered flag privacy curtains and lotion amenities). These young people deserve big kudos for volunteering three, eleven hour days to complete the beautifully rendered and executed paintings.

Also receiving kudos were the young women from Wilson High School who manned the gate Alicia and Andria Busenberg; Caitlin McDerrmott; and Paige Tesmer.

Covey noted the funds raised from the Paddock Club support the C-300 administrative costs. C-300 supports not only the Grand Prix but other year round Long Beach City events. Tickets are now available for next year: call, 562-981-9200.

Seen at the scene: C-300 President John Ridgely; Cheryl Portugal; Dian Morris; Penny Ferguson; Cheryl LeMmone; Pam Camfield; past presidents Lisa Viets, Julie Nemechek, Derek Brown, Larry Case, and Tom Jordan. Others included Chris Kozaites; Harriet and Charles Cohen; Bob Patton (the Wolfgang Puck of hot dogs); Susan Lincoln; Trase Waller; and Pam Wood.

There is no better place to witness the heart-pounding excitement, the goosebumps and the thrill of the beginning of the race than at the Pit Row suite of the Long Beach Grand Prix Association.

Sky divers unfurled from the sky, one bearing the U.S. flag, as the Star Spangled Banner was sung. Powerful jets screamed by – the cheers of the crowd underscored their pride. No longer does this select crowd sit chilled in bleachers, now a wind-protected lounge awaits them – along with a bountiful buffet, laden with salads, lobster and filet. Soft spring color overcloths decked the tables which were centered with fresh floral bouquets of roses, stock, carnations, iris and hydrangea.

“One minute to command” – anticipation soars! And the roar of the engines command the day! The race has begun!

Seen at the scene: Jim and Mary Michaelian (in his usual relaxed and smiling manner); Mayor Bob and Nancy Foster (he beamed, “did you catch my ride in the Corvette?”); Pat West; Gail and Jim Gray; Lou Mirabile; Ellen and Chris Pook; Dave and Jill Pasant; Cathy and David Gordon; Jim and Jorene Hankla; Vi Leslie; Rick and Joey DuRee; Beverly O’Neill; Tim King; Jay and Linda Oxford; Randy Gordon and Nancy Becker; Corkey and Marilyn Severson; Ethel Severson; Terry Ebert; and Sandra Koos. Also there was pal Doug Krikorian; (who, perhaps, is the only person on the scene who knows more people than I do).
Seen on the course: Pit crew Karen and Bob Lewis; Donna Griggs; Judie Johnsen; Ambrose Martin and Claude Covington.
The race is over, but not party-time at Keesal, Young and Logan. The wind-down shindig, was in full swing with a live band and the dance floor hopping. Executive Chef William Hall and Chef Mauricio Perez served another bountiful buffet (of pulled pork and tri-tip sandwiches, coleslaw, tray passed mini-lamb chops and hors d’oeuvres). Jeff Severson, there with Lorri Park, gave an impromptu performance which pleased the crowd.

Host Skip Keesal presented to former Mayor Beverly O’Neill an autographed photograph of Bev and former President Bill Clinton, stating “To my favorite mayor.” Bev was thrilled and commented that she was sure Skip had put the president up to it!
Seen at the scene: Beth Keesal; Blake and Vicki Christian; Parnelli and Judy Jones; J.C. and Chris Agajanian; Tino Bernadette of Molina Healthcare; Sergio Alfonso and Gary Green from California Bank and Trust; Chief Braden Phillips; Kelli Gardener; Darlene Dameron; Bobbie Barker and Ron Litterist; Jodi Cohen; Vern Schooley; Craig Peterson from Sea Launch; Chip and Lisa Israel; Craig Johnson; Phil and Katie Holthouse; Crystal Ashby; Matt Rezvani; Charles Paul; Judge Joseph Di Loreto; Brian Russell; Joe Moch; John Blazevich; Bill Cote; Bill and Matthew Markle;and Dennis Lord.

Others included Congresswoman Laura Richardson; Senator Alan Lowenthal (and wife, Dr. Debbie Malmuth); Bonnie Lowenthal and Evan Braude; Suja Lowenthal; Patrick O’Donnell; Gary and Dawna DeLong; Councilman Dee Andrews; and California Senator Roderick Wright.

Long Beach Press-Telegram