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DATE News (chronologically)
03/11/08
racing news
It's 'The Fast & The Famous' in 2008 Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race
LONG BEACH, Calif.-- An eclectic roster of stars of film, television and sports will strap into brand new race-ready Scion tCs to vie for the checkered flag in the world's longest-running, most successful celebrity racing event:  the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race on Saturday, April 19, part of the 34th annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

The field of 18 is revved up for competition in this historic, 10-lap race for charity on a 1.97-mile street circuit through the downtown streets of Long Beach in Southern California.  The Pro/Celebrity race, one of six featured events during race weekend, gives fans a chance to see their favorite stars duke it out on the track during exciting action-packed competition.

This year's field includes the following group of fiercely competitive entertainment personalities, sports stars and media: 

  • Drew Lachey Singer and actor, best known as the second-season winner of ABC's Dancing with the Stars and member of the group 98 Degrees. Appeared on Broadway in "Rent."
  • Raymond Cruz  Actor, best known for his roles as Det. Sanchez on CBS's The Closer and as Tuco in the critically acclaimed AMC series Breaking Bad.  Film roles  include "Clear and Present Danger," "The  Substitute," "The Rock," and "Training Day."
  • Wilmer Valderrama  Actor, best known for the role of Fez in the FOX sitcom That '70s Show and host of MTV's Yo Momma.
  • Eric Dickerson Pro Football Hall of Famer, widely considered to be one of the greatest running backs in NFL history.  In his 10-year career, played for the Los Angeles Rams, Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Raiders and Atlanta Falcons.
  • John Salley Sportscaster, Emmy-nominated Best Damn Sports Show Period; four-time NBA champion.  Retired from the NBA Detroit Pistons, Chicago Bulls and LA Lakers.
  • Daniel Goddard Actor, starring as Cane Ashby on The Young and the Restless.  Also played Dar on the BeastMaster TV  series.
  • Jamie Little  ESPN/ABC pit reporter for NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series.  Has covered the Indy Racing League and both the Winter and Summer X Games.
  • Nancy Lieberman ESPN women's basketball analyst.  Renowned collegiate and WNBA professional basketball player and coach; member of the Basketball Hall of Fame;  Olympic Silver Medalist.
  • Brad Lewis Film producer and director. Executive Producer of Pixar's Academy Award winning film "Ratatouille," the 20th Century Fox hit "Broken Arrow" (with John Travolta and Christian Slater) and Dreamworks' "Forces of Nature" and "Antz."
  • William Fichtner  Actor, starring as FBI special agent Alexander Mahone in the FOX series Prison Break.  Also appeared in Academy Award-winning best picture "Crash," as well as "Blades of Glory," "Armageddon," "Black Hawk Down," "Go," and "Heat."

Professional off-road racer, ESPN pit-reporter and feature host for the Champ Car World Series Beccy Gordon joins the "Pro" category with cyclist Marty Nothstein, the 2000 Gold and 1996 Silver Medalist in the 1000-meter (Sprint) Olympic Track Cycling competitions and 34-time U.S. Nationals Champion with titles in seven different events.  Other Pro drivers include NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Champion Mike Skinner, NHRA Funny Car Champion Tony Pedregon, two-time NHRA U.S. Nationals Funny Car winner Whit Bazemore, and Grand-Am race car driver/fine jewelry designer Sarena Traver (who garnered a spot by bidding $80,000 in the Boys and Girls charity auction). 

The Southern California Toyota Dealer seat is being filled by Bud Gordon, General Manager of Quality Toyota of Corona.  Rounding out the field is the second Boys and Girls Club charity auction winner Craig Barto, whose matching $80,000 donation also earned him a chance to challenge the celebrities and pros in this year's race.

"We're looking forward to one of the most competitive races since we created the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race more than 30 years ago," said Les Unger, Toyota's national motorsports manager.  "The Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race is renowned for attracting 'the fast and the famous' because it offers the unparalleled celebrity-pro challenge of real high-speed racing, combined with a chance to support a worthwhile charity."

Toyota will donate $5,000 to "Racing for Kids" in the name of each celebrity racer, and another $5,000 to the winning racer's charity of choice.  Racing for Kids is a non-profit program benefiting children's hospitals in Long Beach and Orange County, Calif. 

Finally, a $15,000 donation is made in conjunction with the 11th annual "PEOPLE Pole Award."  Sponsored by PEOPLE magazine, the award honors the pole-position winner of the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race qualifying session on Friday, April 18.  On behalf of the race and its participants, Toyota has donated close to $1.6 million to various children's organizations since 1991.  SOURCE  Toyota Motorsports

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