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DATE News (chronologically)
01/30/07
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Fans can bid to be in Pro/Celebrity race
If you've ever dreamed of racing wheel-to-wheel against a field of stars from TV, movies and the sports world on America's most famous street circuit, now's your chance!

Beginning Monday, February 5, you can bid on a seat in the starting lineup to race along side a star-studded field in the 31st annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, part of the 33rd annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend April 13-15, by logging on to www.longbeachgp.com.

Bidding begins at $50,000 and runs from 12:01 a.m. Feb. 5 through midnight Wednesday, Feb. 14.  All proceeds from the winning bid will go to the Grand Prix Foundation of Long Beach which, since its inception, has contributed more than $2 million to a wide cross-section of charitable organizations throughout the greater Long Beach area.

The winning bidder will join the rest of the celebrity and professional field for four days of professional driver's training with Fast Lane Racing School at Willow Springs Raceway located in Rosamond, Calif.  Additionally, one day of pre-event driver's training and media exposure will take place on Grand Prix Press/Practice Day, Tuesday, April 3.  Practice and qualifying on Friday will lead up to the green flag on Saturday, April 14, 12:15 p.m. where a fierce group of celebrities will compete in race-ready Scion tCs in a 10-lap sprint race over the storied 1.97-mile seaside Long Beach street course.

This unique package also includes first-class air fare, first-class hotel accommodations, meals and ground transportation to training, press/practice day and race weekend, as well as race-week dinners and related press and social activities, including a post-race "Victory Dinner."

The high bidder will also receive a custom-made professional driver's suit, including shoes, gloves and helmet, and a $5,000 donation from Toyota will be made in the winning bidder's name to "Racing for Kids," a national program benefiting two childrens' hospitals in Southern California. 

Business analyst Thom Naito, the high bidder for the ride in last year's race, said the whole experience "was unbelievable.  The opportunity to take part in an historic event like the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach - and to do it all for charity - was nothing but fun … definitely a 'win/win' situation.

"One of the high points was the four days of training at Willow Springs Raceway, when I met all the other competitors and the people behind-the-scenes.  It was nice to 'bond' with such a great group of people.

"And when we visited the Children's Hospital and met the kids, it really brought home the reason why we were racing.  The race itself was, frankly, just a blur!  I had a hard time sleeping the night before, but the whole weekend holds great memories for me.

"It was a dream come true."

The starting field for the 31st annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race has yet to be announced, but past celebrity entrants have included George Lucas, Ashley Judd, Clint Eastwood, Cameron Diaz, Gene Hackman, Jay Leno, Karl Malone and John Elway.  Professional drivers have included Parnelli Jones, Scott Pruett, Dan Gurney and Danica Patrick.

For full details and rules, log on to www.longbeachgp.com, then click the "auction" link. TGPLB PR

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