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 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.


Year Pro Winner Celebrity Winner
1977 Sam Posey* Shelley Novak
1978 Gordon Johncock* James Brolin
1979 Al Unser Bruce Jenner*
1980 Parnelli Jones* Gene Hackman
1981 Elio de Angelis Robert Hays*
1982 Dan Gurney Bruce Jenner*
1983 Dan Gurney* Ted Nugent
1984 David Hobbs* Robert Hays
1985 Al Unser Jr.* [1] Lorenzo Lamas
1986 Dan Gurney* Perry King
1987 Juan Manuel Fangio II Jason Bateman*
1988 Dan Gurney Paul Moyer* [2]
1989 Parnelli Jones Rick Schroder*
1990 Bobby Rahal*[1] Stephen Baldwin (came 2nd overall)[1]
1991 Parnelli Jones Donny Osmond*
1992 P. J. Jones* [3] Joe Amato [4]
1993 Eddie Lawson* Rick Kirkham
1994 Brian Redman Alfonso Ribeiro*
1995 Rod Millen Alfonso Ribeiro* [5]
1996 [6] Grant Show*
1997 Tommy Kendall Sean Patrick Flanery*
1998 Sean Patrick Flanery* Andy Lauer
1999 Roger Mears Shaun Palmer*
2000 Derek Daly Josh Brolin*
2001 Scott Pruett* Tom Rudnai [7]
2002 Danica Patrick Dara Torres*
2003 Jeremy McGrath Peter Reckell*
2004 Max Papis* Chris McDonald
2005 Rhys Millen* Frankie Muniz
2006 Todd Bodine Bucky Lasek*
2007 Mike Skinner Dave Mirra*
2008 Mike Skinner Jamie Little*

* = overall champion

Notes

  • ^  Paul Moyer is a news anchor at KNBC-TV in Los Angeles [8]
  • ^  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 [9]
  • ^  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

  1. 1.0 1.1 Hughes, Jonathan. "The Men and Machines of Indy Car Racing CART 1990 - 1991", page 84, Motorbooks, ISBN 9780929323053