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Long Beach Grand Prix: Up close with ALMS qualifying

A hot Friday afternoon in Long Beach played host to the qualifying round of the weekend's American Le Mans Series final.

ALMS, as the race is known, is styled after the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France, one of the oldest and most prestigious events in motorsports racing. ALMS is a series event, with 10 races of varying lengths held throughout the U.S. and Canada.

What makes ALMS races so compelling is that spectators get to watch five different classes of cars compete on the track at the same time. Rules of the road apply, with slower classes expected to move over when a faster car is clearly bearing down.

PHOTOS: Behind the scenes at the 2013 Long Beach Grand Prix

This means you can watch a race-prepped Ferrari 458 from the GT class get overtaken by the open-cockpit of the HPD ARX-03a. It's not every day a Ferrari looks slow.

The HPD, which is built by Honda, races in a class called P1. The P stands for prototype, and these purpose-built race cars run in three of the five classes in ALMS racing -- P1, P2 and P3. The other two classes are comprised of modified road cars from brands like Porsche, Corvette and BMW.

Friday's action was a qualifying race; cars were timed as they lapped the 1.97-mile course. Fastest time means best starting position in Saturday's final, which starts at 4:30 p.m. A pair of Lolas topped Friday's qualifying results.

Saturday's ALMS final is the second event in the series' season. The next event is May 11 at Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif.

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