"Rutledge proved he's a racer at heart," said Les Unger, national motorsports manager with Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. "He returned to the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race this year to improve his performance — and he succeeded. All the drivers did a great job today and will be ready to put on an impressive show in Saturday's race."
Wood named the charity Victory Junction Gang Camp as the designee for a $15,000 donation awarded in conjunction with the 16th annual People Pole Award. "I want to say a big thanks to People for doing this. Big thanks to Toyota. This is going to send a lot of kids to camp in North Carolina at Victory Junction. It's the happiest place I've ever been on earth. It's an amazing place where every kid can do everything from the ropes course to the pool."
In odds given by professional handicapper Anthony Curtis, Wood was consistently among the favorites, and proved experience counts now in his second showing in the celebrity event. Curtis has been studying and handicapping the drivers throughout March and April. He offers his insights solely for entertainment purposes on www.lasvegasadvisor.com. (There will be no actual wagering on the outcome of the race.)
Mark Steines, Emmy award-winning journalist and host of Hallmark Channel's "Home & Family," will start second followed by Michael Trucco from SyFy's acclaimed series "Battlestar Galactica" as the top-three celebrities in Saturday's race. The celebrity drivers will get a 30-second advantage over the professional drivers at the start of Saturday's race.
In the professional category, Tyler Clary scored the fastest driving time in the same session, followed closely by Andy Bell and Adam Carolla (last year's overall race winner, driving this year in the pro category).
Toyota will donate $5,000 to Racing for Kids in the name of each participant and an additional $5,000 to the winning racer's charity of choice. Racing for Kids is a national nonprofit program benefiting children's hospitals in Long Beach and Orange County, Calif. Toyota has donated more than $2 million on behalf of the race and its participants to various children's hospitals since 1991.
Saturday's race starts at 11:45 a.m. PDT.