Watch the 573-HP 2019 Acura NSX Set a Long Beach Grand Prix Circuit Lap Record
The Long Beach Grand Prix circuit is lined with concrete walls that punish mistakes, but luckily, this pro driver didn’t make any.
Acura announced Friday that its hybrid NSX supercar has set the production car lap record at Long Beach, California's famous street circuit.
The West Coast city closes down some of its streets annually for a brief period to host IndyCar’s Grand Prix of Long Beach, and 2019's event is scheduled to be run this Sunday. While the roads were shut down for the race, Acura deployed a 2019 NSX (which The Drive's Kyle Cheromcha found "phenomenal"), captained by seven-time Blancpain GT World Challenge class winner Peter Cunningham at the circuit. There, the pro laid down a 1:35.663 across the 1.968-mile circuit, with an average speed of 74.05 miles per hour. Cunningham's lap was recorded by an onboard camera, and Acura shared the video, embedded below.
We tried matching Cunningham's time in Forza Motorsport 7, and hooked up a 1:28.365 in a stock car, without cutting corners or hitting walls. Admittedly, Forza isn't the world's most realistic racing game, and racing from one's couch with only the threat of a vibrating controller is almost completely incomparable to wrangling a 573-horsepower supercar around a real racetrack. Plus, you don’t have the responsibility of a $157,700 you break it, you buy it hanging over your head. If anything, it demonstrates that Cunningham has baskets of time that he could pick up if he wanted to.
Acura became this event's title sponsor in February after Toyota declined to continue its 44-year-long partnership with the race, but that doesn't mean Acura has set some exclusive record that other automakers can't challenge.
"The Grand Prix Association controls [track] access, not Acura," explained Acura's Head of Public Relations Matt Sloutscher to The Drive. "We thought it'd be fun to establish a production car record on this historic course given one did not exist after 45 years and pursued the idea a few days ago. If another automaker wished to up the ante, we'd fully welcome and support it. Ultimately, that would be good for the Grand Prix and the sport."
But even the best hypothetical road car lap—digital or real—is nothing in comparison to Long Beach's overall lap record. In 2017, Brazilian IndyCar driver Hélio Castroneves in his Chevrolet-powered Dallara DW12 squeezed out a 1:06.225, with an average speed of 156.9 mph. Doing a buck-fifty on an open airstrip is exhilarating, but on a narrow street circuit? That's a level of focus that only near-superhuman professional racers can achieve.