Mirra, Skinner win Pro/Celebrity race
It was billed as "the battle of the sexes" and it lived up to expectations, as BMX champion Dave Mirra crossed the finish line in his race-ready Scion tC ahead of Tennis Hall of Famer Martina Navratilova and actor Joshua Morrow, star of "The Young & The Restless," to take the crown in the 2007 Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race. NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) Champion Mike Skinner finished first in the Pro category.
"It is always exciting to watch these three powerhouses race," said Les Unger, Toyota Motor Sales USA national motorsports manager. "Martina, Joshua and Dave had all participated in previous years but hadn’t won, and each was hungry to take home the trophy this year. However, all the celebrities came prepared for the challenge, and their competitive spirit made for a thrilling show. Their enthusiasm, both on the track and off, demonstrates exactly what the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race is all about."
Mirra was favored to win among the field of 17 stars of film, television and sports by Hollywagers.com, the professional handicappers who’d been analyzing the drivers for weeks. [The odds were presented solely for entertainment purposes exclusively by Hollywagers.com, powered by Pregame.com, the country’s largest bet-centric information site. There was no actual wagering on the outcome of the race.] And the X-Games champ was determined to make it to Victory Circle this year, since he was unable to finish the 2006 Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race due to mechanical problems.
It was by no means a lock, however, as both Navratilova and Morrow knew quite well how tricky the 1.97-mile street circuit through the downtown streets of Long Beach could be to navigate.
Due to an eighth-lap crash involving George Lucas and Annamarie Dean, the race ended under a red flag.
Mirra took the point position as the green flag waved and then took advantage of a duel between Navratilova and Morrow to pull out an early lead. Morrow was able to slip by the tennis legend on the opening lap, before Navratilova regained the position and set her sights on Mirra. She closed to within one second, but the red flag eventually eliminated the opportunity for a late-race shoot-out between the two top qualifiers as Mirra led wire-to-wire.
"You go into the event with everyone out here wanting to help raise money for charity and have fun," said Mirra. "But when the race starts, the competitive juices take over and everyone wants to win."
"I stayed focused and kept to my game plan," said Navratilova. "I just wish it had stayed green the whole way through."
In the professional category, NCTS champion Mike Skinner was able to pass Pro pole-sitter and professional skateboarder and X Games gold medalist Bucky Lasek on the first lap and retained the top "pro" spot throughout the race. Lasek, the celebrity winner in the 2006 Toyota/Pro Celebrity Race, would later go off into the run-off at Turn 11, temporarily giving the second position to NHRA Sport Compact Champion Scott Kelley. For Skinner, the victory is his fourth in a row after coming into the race with three straight NASCAR truck wins in his Toyota Tundra.
FINAL RACE RESULTS:
Pos No. Name Laps Start Pos
1 - 24 - Dave Mirra - 8 - 1
2 - 6 - Martina Navratilova - 8 - 2
3 - 15 - Joshua Morrow - 8 - 3
4 - 26 - Mike Skinner* - 8 - 16
5 - 16 - RJ Romero - 8 - 4
6 - 24 - Bucky Lasek** - 8 - 15
7 - 21 - Scott Kelley*** - 8 - 16
8 - 18 - Emily Procter - 8 - 7
9 - 11 - Kelly Hu - 8 - 6
10 - 22 - John Salley - 8 - 8
11 - 14 - Aisha Tyler - 8 - 12
12 - 19 - Jerry Westlund - 8 - 11
13 - 5 - Kathryn Morris - 8 - 13
14 - 8 - Robin Quivers - 8 - 14
15 - 17 - Annamarie Dean - 7 - 5
16 - 2 - George Lucas - 7 - 10
17 - 10 - Kendra Wilkinson - 4 - 9
* 1st place PRO
** 2nd place PRO
*** 3rd place PRO
Toyota will donate $5,000 to "Racing for Kids" in the name of each celebrity racer, and another $5,000 to the winner’s charity of choice. Racing for Kids is a non-profit program benefiting Children’s Hospital of Orange County and Miller Children’s Hospital in Long Beach, Calif.
On behalf of the race and its participants, Toyota has donated close to $1.5 million to various children’s organizations since 1991.
Additionally, a $15,000 donation was made in conjunction with the annual "PEOPLE Pole Award." Sponsored by PEOPLE magazine, the award honored Dave Mirra, this year’s pole-position winner of the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race qualifying session. Mirra selected the Multiple Sclerosis Society as his charity, in honor of Haley Harrington, the sister of a good friend of Mirra’s who has MS.