Jeff Krosnoff, 21, passed his friend Tom Kendall, 19, on the fourth lap and went on to win the 20-lap Russell/Mazda Pro Series race by 2.16 seconds over Jon Beekhuis at Long Beach Sunday.
It was Krosnoff's first victory in three years in the series for open-wheel cars powered by Mazda rotary engines. He and Kendall are La Canada neighbors who attend UCLA.
Later in the race, a prelude to the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Kendall spun on Turn 5 and lost a place to Beekhuis, 25, of Salinas, and finished third.
Beekhuis, the chief instructor at the Jim Russell British School of Motor Racing at Laguna Seca, said he learned something from Krosnoff and Kendall.
"They had a trick in the hairpin to carry more speed through the corner," he said. "It took me a while to pick it up."