Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race


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 on the street course 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. From its inception until 2005, From 1977 until 2005, the drivers drove showroom stock Toyota Celicas. Since 2006, the Scion tC is the car used in the race. Celebrity contestants range from Hollywood's "A" List elite, to budding young stars and starlets, to professional sports figures, to local Southern California television and radio personalities and selected Toyota dealers. One seat is put up for auction where the high bidder at an auction will also participate 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 taken 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.

* = overall champion

Notes

* Paul Moyer is a news anchor at KNBC-TV in Los Angeles [http://www.nbc4.tv/news/1277631/detail.html]
* After Amato's win, Grand Prix officials required NHRA drag racers to race as professionals.
* Tom Rudnai is general manager of a local Toyota dealership [http://www.longotoyota.com/en_US/MiscPage_12.chtml]
* For the 20th Anniversary race in 1996, there were no professional drivers.
* After Alfonso Ribeiro won two consecutive races, TGPLB rules required past celebrity winners must race as professionals.
* 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.

*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.

External links

* [http://www.toyota.com/motorsports/pro_celeb/history.html All-time statistics at Toyota.com] "Includes a complete listing of everyone who has ever competed in the event."
* [http://www.gplb.com/raceInfo.html#celebrity Official TPCR website]
* [http://www.sportshollywood.com/longbeach.html SportsHollywood.com article about the TPCR]
* [http://clantongang.com/oldwest/tgplb2002.html Photos from the 2002 race]
* [http://entertainment.msn.com/photos/gallery.aspx?gallery=7499 Photos of practice sessions for the 2005 race]


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