Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race
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.
* = overall champion
- ^ 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.
- ^ 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Werstine, Dave (April 17, 2011). "Fichtner never looks back for win". Press-Telegram.
- http://www.nbc4.tv/news/1277631/detail.html[dead link]
- http://www.longotoyota.com/en_US/MiscPage_12.chtml[dead link]