Vasser, Ganassi Racing Join Walk of Fame
LONG BEACH, Calif. — As has become a tradition, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach kicked off the weekend by inducting the newest members into the Walk of Fame on Pine Avenue, right along the race circuit.
This year’s inductees were 1996 Long Beach Grand Prix winner Jimmy Vasser and Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
Jim Michalean, CEO of the Grand Prix Ass’n of Long Beach, pointed out that in 1994, the Indycar (actually CART), was loaded with star drivers, but for the poster for the first race featuring Indy-style cars, they chose the Stroh’s Bear Wagon piloted by a young driver named Chip Ganassi.
“Now, you might think we were prescient to pick this driver who would go on to so much success as an owner…or, you could say we wanted to spotlight our sponsor, Old Milwaukee and their Stroh’s brand. I’ll leave it up to you.”
Vasser pointed out that it was probably winning the 2010 Toyota Pro/Celebrity race that put him over the top. He liked the synchronicity of having his father there, who got him started in racing; Ganassi, who gave him his big break in Indycars; and his current partner in KV Racing, Kevin Kalkoven, all there to witness his induction.
Ganassi and Vasser join past inductees Phil Hill, Dan Gurney, Brian Redman, Chris Pook, Newman Haas Racing, Mario Andretti, Parnelli Jones, Gary Gabelich, al Unser, Jr., Bobby Rahal, Michael Andretti, and Danny Sullivan with large medallions sunk into the sidewalk.