Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race

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The Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race is an annual 10-lap auto race held each April since 1977 as part of the United States Grand Prix West, and later the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend at Long Beach, California. Since 1991, the event has raised money for "Racing for Kids," a national fund-raising program benefiting children's hospitals in Long Beach and Orange County.

The TPCR pits celebrities against professional racers from various types of motor racing. They usually race in some car built by Toyota or Toyota owned Scion. From its inception until 2005, the drivers drove showroom stock Toyota Celicas. Scion tC's were used from 2006 to 2012, and the Scion FR-S began use in 2013. Celebrity contestants range from Hollywood's "A-list" elite, budding young stars and starlets, professional sports figures, local Southern California television and radio personalities and selected Toyota dealers. One seat is put up for auction, the high bidder for which also participates in the race. Often, a member of the broadcast team for the feature race will race in the event; Ken Squier, Paul Page, Jack Arute, and Jamie Little (the 2008 winner) have all participated in the race while broadcasting the feature.

All celebrities are given thorough practice, safety, and training sessions before competing, and thus far, no serious injuries have occurred, despite a large number of crashes throughout the years. Several celebrities who have taken part in the TPCR have gone on to take up auto racing as a part-time hobby or as team owners.

The celebrities receive a 30-second head start to begin the race against the professionals and past champions. In 2013, comedian Adam Carolla won while classed as a pro (thus starting with a 30 second handicap) and thereby became the second driver to have won the event in both "celebrity" and "pro" classifications, after Sean Patrick Flanery in 1997/1998.

From left: Daniel Goddard, Jerry Westlund (winner of the charity auction for a seat in the race), Michael Trucco, Jillian Barberie, Djimon Hounsou and Tito Ortiz at the Toyota Grand Prix Celebrity Race 2011

Winners[edit]

Year Pro winner Celebrity winner
2014[1] Al Unser, Jr. Brett Davern*
2013 Adam Carolla Rutledge Wood*
2012 Fredric Aasbø Adam Carolla*
2011[2] Ken Gushi William Fichtner*
2010 Jimmy Vasser* Brian Austin Green
2009 Al Unser Jr.* Keanu Reeves
2008 Mike Skinner Jamie Little*
2007 Mike Skinner Dave Mirra*
2006 Todd Bodine Bucky Lasek*
2005 Rhys Millen* Frankie Muniz
2004 Max Papis* Chris McDonald
2003 Jeremy McGrath Peter Reckell*
2002 Danica Patrick Dara Torres*
2001 Scott Pruett* Tom Rudnai[1]
2000 Derek Daly Josh Brolin*[2]
1999 Roger Mears Shaun Palmer*
1998 Sean Patrick Flanery* Andy Lauer
1997 Tommy Kendall Sean Patrick Flanery*
1996 [3] Grant Show*
1995 Rod Millen Alfonso Ribeiro*[4]
1994 Brian Redman Alfonso Ribeiro*
1993 Eddie Lawson* Rick Kirkham
1992 P. J. Jones*[5] Joe Amato[6]
1991 Parnelli Jones Donny Osmond*
1990 Bobby Rahal* Stephen Baldwin
1989 Parnelli Jones Rick Schroder*
1988 Dan Gurney Paul Moyer*[7]
1987 Juan Manuel Fangio II Jason Bateman*
1986 Dan Gurney* Perry King
1985 Al Unser Jr.*[8] Lorenzo Lamas
1984 David Hobbs* Robert Hays
1983 Dan Gurney* Ted Nugent
1982 Dan Gurney Bruce Jenner*
1981 Elio de Angelis Robert Hays*
1980 Parnelli Jones* Gene Hackman
1979 Al Unser Bruce Jenner*
1978 Gordon Johncock* James Brolin[9]
1977 Sam Posey* Shelly Novack

* = overall champion

Notes[edit]

  • ^ James (1978) and Josh (2000) Brolin is the only father-son combination to win the celebrity portion of the event. However, Josh had the distinction of being an overall winner, unlike his father.
  • ^ The Unsers and the Jones' are the only father-son combination to win the Pro portion of the event, with Parnelli Jones winning multiple times.
  • ^ Paul Moyer is a news anchor at KNBC-TV in Los Angeles.[3]
  • ^ After Amato's win, Grand Prix officials required NHRA drag racers to race as professionals.
  • ^ After Alfonso Ribeiro won two consecutive races, TGPLB rules required past celebrity winners must race as professionals.
  • ^ For the 20th Anniversary race in 1996, there were no professional drivers.
  • ^ Tom Rudnai is general manager of a local Toyota dealership[4]
  • Three times, the play-by-play announcer for the main event was in the Pro-Celebrity race -- Paul Page twice (once raced against his own pit reporter, Jack Arute), and Ken Squier in the early years, when it was the United States Grand Prix West.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Guardabascio, Mike (April 12, 2014). "Brett Davern, Al Unser Jr. win Pro/Celebrity Race at Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach". Press-Telegram. Retrieved April 14, 2014. 
  2. ^ Werstine, Dave (April 17, 2011). "Fichtner never looks back for win". Press-Telegram. 
  3. ^ http://www.nbc4.tv/news/1277631/detail.html[dead link]
  4. ^ http://www.longotoyota.com/en_US/MiscPage_12.chtml[dead link]

External links[edit]