Angels pitcher and race car driver CJ Wilson at the Long Beach Grand Prix.
... actually, the confession is kind of refreshing. CJ Wilson, who won 17 games for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last season, says his other sport — racing cars — is harder than baseball, adding that it gives him perspective on the mound.
"Racing is much more terrifying, so it makes baseball less intimidating. When you've gone sideways or crashed into a wall at 120-mph, it's not a big deal if somebody scores a run. Racing definitely makes me a better baseball player.
The biggest part of it is that there's a 3-dimensional spacial awareness you get as a professional athlete that I feel like translates as a driver." — The Angels' CJ Wilson, who races as Chris Wilson
Drivers know how close they can get to a wall, how close to they can get to each other, how that extra bit of drift will give them the extra 2 miles an hour that will help them win a race.
RELATED: CJ Wilson's racing team
At the press luncheon for this weekend's 40th Long Beach Grand Prix, the country's longest race on city streets, Wilson said, "Street circuits are just absolutely insane." He referring to how close the fans are to the action and how close the cars are to each other. Also, he says it drives home, so to speak, the reality of racing. Some of the fans are from Long Beach, "and they're like, 'I've taken that corner before, I've stopped at that stoplight.' So they know how fast they can go, but when they see an Indy car going through here at 190-mph, they're like, 'that looks way faster than on TV!'"
RELATED: Check the whole LBGP schedule here
Listen to the audio for more of my conversation with CJ Wilson. Plus, I spoke with Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster, who remembers the race's first years when they had to cover the marquees of downtown's dirty movie theaters. And you'll hear from last year's winner, Takuma Sato, explaining why a street race like the LBGP is harder than racing on a standard oval track.
Meantime, here are some Long Beach Grand Prix highlights:
Friday, April 11
- 2:00 p.m. INDYCAR practice
- 4:00 p.m. INDYCAR All-Driver Autograph Session in INDYCAR Paddock (open to all spectators)
- 6:45 p.m. Concert starring Kinky
- 7:45 p.m. Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge qualifying
Saturday, April 12
- 7:00 a.m. Gates open
- 11:00 a.m. Autograph session with Mario Andretti
- 12:00 p.m. Pro/Celebrity Race
- 1:15 p.m. INDYCAR qualifying and Firestone Fast Six
- 6:45 p.m. Concert with Paul Rodgers of Bad Company
Sunday, April 13
- 7:00 a.m. Gates open
- 10:15 a.m. Indy Lights Race
- 10:30 a.m. Autograph session with Mario Andretti, Dan Gurney, and Al Unser Jr.
- 11:30 a.m. Mothers Exotic Car Parade
- 12:00 p.m. SPEED Energy Stadium Super Trucks Race
- 1:43 p.m. "Drivers, Start Your Engines!"
- 1:50 p.m. Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach INDYCAR Race (80 laps)