It’s time to think car racing.

    The 2011 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach still is two months away (April 15-17), but the City Council will talk about the course next Tuesday and the Committee of 300 will host the annual Kickoff Party next Wednesday.

    The public is invited to both events, but C-300 President Salvador Farfan promises that the mixer Wednesday will be more fun. The event at the Hotel Maya will include hors d’oeuvres, a pace car on display, a silent auction and more. It’s all free and runs from 6 to 9 p.m.

    “It will be the Bob (Foster, the mayor) and Jim (Michaelian, Grand Prix CEO) show,” Farfan said. “The Historical Society is our charity this year, so they’ll be there, and we’re also partnering with the Hot August Nights people.”

    Tecate Miss Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Alyssa Meeks will be on hand, and Third District Councilman Gary DeLong is expected to make a presentation.

    This will be the 37th annual Grand Prix in Long Beach, and the C-300 has been there from the beginning. It was formed as the volunteer organization to help the race run smoothly, and the Redcoats’ primary mission remains just that. Members and their credentialed volunteers help race fans find their seats, cater to the media and host the popular Paddock Club. They also promote the race throughout the year and help at a wide range of special events, including the Belmont Shore Christmas Parade and the Naples Boat Parade.

    “The event Wednesday is definitely a membership drive,” Farfan said. “We’re looking for either full members or credentialed volunteers to work the race. We’ve been kind of struggling for new members, but we’re getting lots of volunteers; so many that we’ll be able to work shifts this year instead of working all day.”

    The goal always has been to have 300 full members in the group. But membership has hovered around 200 for the last decade. There is a “two-for-one” deal available now where two people can sign up for $150, or one person can join for $75 — half the regular dues.

    There will be booths and members explaining the program at Wednesday’s event, as well as the opportunity to sign up or purchase Paddock Club passes — which include reserved seating for the race. Volunteers can sign up to work the race for just $10, but the opportunity will end in early March, Farfan said.

    Wednesday’s party will raise money to support the Historical Society of Long Beach. In addition to the silent auction and opportunity drawing, there will be “Those Balloons” with prizes guaranteed to be worth more than the purchase price.

    Admission, food and parking are free; there will be a no-host bar. The Maya is at 700 Queensway Drive on the south side of Queensway Bay.

    For more information, go to www.redcoat.com or call 981-9200.

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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