Drivers Announced for 2012 Toyota Pre-Celebrity Race
For the 36th year, the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race will field a glamorous array of Hollywood's elite in an action-packed race for charity-and the glory of the winner's circle. On Saturday, April 14, stars from film, television, music, sports and fashion will get behind the wheels of identically prepared, race-ready Toyota Scion tCs to drive the historic 10-lap, 1.97-mile street circuit through the streets of downtown Long Beach, Calif.
This year's field will compete in what has become the world's longest-running, most prestigious celebrity racing event, and includes the following popular entertainment, media and sports personalities: Jillian Barberie Reynolds Television personality and co-host of Emmy Award-winning, top rated Fox morning show "Good Day LA" for the past 15 years.
Adrien Brody Best Actor Oscar winner for his role in "The Pianist." Other film credits include, "King Kong," "The Village," "Darjeeling Limited," "Summer of Sam." Most recently seen on screen in Woody Allen's Academy Award-winning "Midnight in Paris" and "Detachment.”
Kate del Castillo One of Mexico's most acclaimed actresses, popular for roles in telenovelas "La Reina del Sur" and "Muchachitas," as well as the Showtime series "Weeds." She was named by People en Español as one of its "50 most beautiful.”
Eddie Cibrian Television and film actor best known for roles in "CSI: Miami," "Ugly Betty," "Vanished," "Invasion," "Third Watch," "Sunset Beach," "The Playboy Club" and "Baywatch Nights.”
He next appears in the Tyler Perry movie "Good Deeds.”
Kim Coates Film and television actor known for his intense performances in "Sons of Anarchy," "Resident Evil: Afterlife" and "Black Hawk Down." He will be seen on the big screen in the upcoming movies "Goon" and "The Truth.”
Eileen Davidson Actress beloved for more than 20 years as Ashley Abbot on "The Young and the Restless" and "The Bold and the Beautiful." She also appeared in "Days of Our Lives" and "Santa Barbara" and has written a series of mystery novels.
Hill Harper The acclaimed television, film and stage actor currently stars in the hit crime-procedural "CSI: NY." He is an author and Harvard grad who has appeared in "For Colored Girls," "The Handler," "City of Angels," "Loving Jezebel" and "The Visit.”
Brody Jenner The reality-TV star was a central character in "The Hills" and has appeared in his stepsisters' show "Kourtney & Kim Take New York." His Olympic athlete father, Bruce, has driven in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race five times, winning twice.
Christopher Meloni The television and film actor is best known for high-profile starring roles on "Law & Order: SVU" and the gritty HBO prison drama "Oz." He is returning to HBO, as a cast member in the upcoming season of the network's hit series "True Blood.”
Scott Porter Actor best known as injured QB Jason Street in the critically acclaimed series "Friday Night Lights." After a story arc on "The Good Wife," he's now a regular on the CW's "Hart of Dixie" and will next appear in cineplexes in "The To-Do List.”
Bill Rancic Entrepreneur and television personality viewers first met as the winner of the inaugural season of "The Apprentice." Currently stars in the Style Network reality series "Giuliana & Bill," which was recently renewed for a fifth season.
Cain Velasquez Former UFC Heavyweight champion, Velasquez has lost only one fight in his professional career. The Mexican-American mixed martial artist has appeared on the Spanish-language TV networks Telemundo and Univision.
Rutledge Wood The host of "Top Gear USA" is also an auto-racing analyst on the Speed Channel.
Pros vying for the title include Scion drift driver Fredric Aasb, former USAC National Midget champion and 2012 driver of Toyota-powered USAC teams, Bryan Clauson; and Jim Jonsin, Grammy award-winning record producer, "American Idol" mentor and owner of Rebel Rock Racing.
"It's been astonishing to see how many entertainers and sports personalities have been transformed by the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race-not just by the event itself, but by the fact that it benefits chronically ill children. I have yet to meet a participant who hasn't been appreciative and sincerely affected by the children's hospital visit that we organize ahead of race day," said Les Unger, Toyota's national motorsports manager. "It's one of the reasons that this race remains such an immense draw for celebrities and athletes-and for the fans who get to see their favorite stars really having a ball. Honestly, I don't know who has more fun -the drivers or the spectators.”
Rounding out the field are charity auction winners Doug Fregin, co-founder and former vice president of operations for Research in Motion (RIM), and nightclub owner Jerry Westlund.
The final seat on the track, reserved each year for a Southern California Toyota dealer, is being filled by Biff Gordon, general manager of Quality Toyota, in Corona, Calif.
Prior to the race, the celebrity drivers will get on-the-track training to fully prepare for the adventure of race day. In addition to the thrill of the sport, this event benefits children in need. Toyota annually donates $5,000 to Racing for Kids on behalf of each participant and another $5,000 to the winning racer's charity of choice. Racing for Kids-a national nonprofit program benefiting children's hospitals throughout the country-was created as a way to connect these children with their favorite celebrities and race-car drivers. Toyota has donated more than $2 million to the Racing for Kids organization since 1991, on behalf of this race and its participants. The two specific children's hospitals that benefit from the Toyota Pro/Celebrity race are Miller Children's Hospital in Long Beach, Calif., and Children's Hospital of Orange County.
In addition to Toyota's contributions, a $15,000 donation will be made in conjunction with the 15th-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 13.
To learn more about the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, one of six main-event attractions taking place during the 38th annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, go to www.toyotaracing.com/, visit our Facebook page (Toyota Racing), follow us on Twitter @ToyotaRacing or join the conversation with the participants at #TPCR.