Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race

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Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race
Long Beach Street Circuit.svg
Location Long Beach, California
33°45′59″N 118°11′34″W / 33.76639°N 118.19278°W / 33.76639; -118.19278Coordinates: 33°45′59″N 118°11′34″W / 33.76639°N 118.19278°W / 33.76639; -118.19278
Corporate sponsor Toyota
First race 1977
Last race 2016
Distance 19.7 mi (31.7 km)
Laps 10
Most wins (driver)

Dan Gurney (4)

Alfonso Ribeiro (4)
Circuit information
Surface Asphalt
Length 1.968 mi (3.167 km)
Turns 11

The Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race was an annual 10-lap auto race held each April since 1977 until 2016 as part of the United States Grand Prix West, and later the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend at Long Beach, California. Beginning in 1991, the event raised money for "Racing for Kids," a national fund-raising program benefiting children's hospitals in Long Beach and Orange County.

The TPCR pitted celebrities against professional racers from various types of motor racing. They raced in identically prepared cars 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 ranged 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 was put up for auction, the high bidder for which also participated in the race. Often, a member of the broadcast team for the feature race would 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 were given thorough practice, safety, and training sessions before competing, and no serious injuries 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 received a 30-second head start to begin the race against the professionals and past champions. In 2015, actor Alfonso Ribeiro won while classed as a pro (thus starting with a 30-second handicap) and thereby became the third driver to have won the event in both "celebrity" and "pro" classifications, after Adam Carolla in 2013 and Sean Patrick Flanery in 1997/1998.

On March 11, 2016 it was announced that the 2016 running of the event would be the final event due to Toyota moving its headquarters from nearby Torrance to Texas.[1]

Winners[edit]

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
Year Pro winner Celebrity winner
2016[2] Max Papis Alfonso Ribeiro*
2015 Alfonso Ribeiro* Dave Pasant[3]
2014[4] Al Unser, Jr. Brett Davern*
2013 Adam Carolla Rutledge Wood*
2012 Fredric Aasbø Adam Carolla*
2011[5] 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*[a]
1981 Elio de Angelis Robert Hays*
1980 Parnelli Jones* Gene Hackman
1979 Al Unser Bruce Jenner*[a]
1978 Gordon Johncock* James Brolin[9]
1977 Sam Posey* Shelly Novack

* = 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.[7]
  • ^ 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[8]
  • 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.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Jenner changed her name to Caitlyn due to gender transition in 2015.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ By ABC7.com staff (2016-03-10). "Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race in Long Beach to end after 40-year ride". abc7.com. Retrieved 2017-04-16. 
  2. ^ "Alfonso Ribeiro wins the Pro/Celebrity race at Grand Prix of Long Beach". LA Times. 2016-04-16. Retrieved 2017-04-16. 
  3. ^ Keisser, Bob (April 18, 2015). "Alfonso Ribeiro enjoys The Carlton victory dance after Long Beach Grand Prix Pro/Celebrity race". The Orange County Register. Retrieved April 21, 2015. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ Werstine, Dave (April 17, 2011). "Fichtner never looks back for win". Press-Telegram. 
  6. ^ Leibovitz, Annie (June 1, 2015). "Introducing Caitlyn Jenner". Vanity Fair. Retrieved June 1, 2015. 
  7. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20050205062012/http://www.nbc4.tv/news/1277631/detail.html. Archived from the original on February 5, 2005. Retrieved April 21, 2005.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20050527111042/http://www.longotoyota.com/en_US/MiscPage_12.chtml. Archived from the original on May 27, 2005. Retrieved April 16, 2005.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]