|Scion FR-S race-prepped cars await to be fired up and driven for the first time in 2015 for track orientation and racing practice by the participants of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Pro/Celebrity Race. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)|
Practice And Cars Picked For 39th Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race
Grand Prix Association of Long Beach officials held track orientation and practice for the 2015 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Pro/Celebrity Race (TPCR) with actors Alfonso Ribeiro, Robert Patrick and Mekhi Phifer, Olympian Dara Torres and musicians Mark McGrath and John Rzeznik who are among the 18 participants from film, television, music, sports, and fashion who will compete for charity.
The 39th annual charity race will take place April 18 on the 1.97-mile street course in downtown Long Beach, Calif., as part of the 41st Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend.
|Toyota Scion FR-S equally race-prepped cars used in the Pro/Celebrity charity race heading into Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Turn1 at the end of Shoreline Drive. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)|
Tuesday, April 7th, had the participants take what they learned from their training at Willow Springs International Motorsports Park through the instruction provided by Danny McKeever's FAST LANE Racing School and apply the lessons for the first time on the streets of Long Beach.
The TPCR event was also a Media Day where the notable drivers for charity were photographed, interviewed, and thrown together for a luncheon where they randomly picked their car number out of a bowl and signed the traditional helmet which will later be auctioned off to the additional benefit of the charities supported.
|Nickelodeon television series iCarly's Nathan Kress, who plays Freddie Benson, picks a numbered ping-pong ball out of a bowl held by Jessica Jenkins, Miss Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)|
The field of racers took to the streets of the temporary course in 210-horsepower Scion FR-S race-prepped cars, navigating high speeds and demanding turns to benefit “Racing for Kids,” a national fundraising program supporting children’s hospitals throughout the United States. The announced field of intensely competitive personalities includes, in alphabetical order [car number]:
|Fast Lane owner and instructor, Danny McKeever gives last minute race driving advice to Donna Feldman. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)|
• Donna Feldman (@DonnaFeldmaninc) : International model, TV Host and actress who has graced the covers of Esquire, Maxim, and GQ among many others, is a former “Deal or No Deal” girl, starred in music videos for Justin Timberlake and Enrique Iglesias, was a series lead in 20th Century Fox's drama "Fashion House," and is a recurring panelist on the Fox News Show "Redeye."
|Football Star Willie Gault (L) "catches" his ball for car assignment for the TPCR race. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)|
• Willie Gault : Former NFL wide receiver and Olympic athlete. He played for the Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Raiders in his 11 seasons in the NFL, winning Super Bowl XX with the Chicago Bears.
|Strapped in, complete with neck ring cushion, Tricia Helfer takes on Long Beach. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)|
• Tricia Helfer (@TruTriciaHelfer) : Tricia Helfer is a Canadian model turned actress who recently played the lead in SyFy’s miniseries “Ascension.” She has also starred in television shows such as “Killer Women,” “The Firm” and “Burn Notice.” Her avid fans, however, know her best for her long running role as the humanoid Cylon ‘Number Six’ in “Battlestar Galactica.”
|Nathan Kress (R) poses with Robert Patrick next to a Toyota Scion FR-S in the grid paddock at the TPCR Media Day. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)|
• Nathan Kress (@NathanKress) : Known around the world for his lead role in Nickelodeon’s hit show “iCarly,” this Kids’ Choice Award nominee also starred in the 2014 feature film “Into the Storm.”
|James Maslow is greeted by a knowing media representative. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)|
• James Maslow (@JamesMaslow) : Kids’ Choice award-winning actor and musician best known as the star of top-rated Nickelodeon program “Big Time Rush.” Currently co-starring as ‘Kevin Mohr’ on the Sony Crackle original series, “Sequestered” and plays lead in upcoming films “Seeds of Yesterday” and “Wild For The Night.” He was also a finalist on Season 18 of “Dancing With The Stars.”
|Sports announcer Steve Mason (C) looks on as fellow TPCR driver Dave Pasant picks his number car. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)|
• Steve Mason (@VeniceMase) : ESPN Radio host of the No. 1-rated “Mason & Ireland Show” for 18 years, and regular contributor to Fox 11’s “Good Day LA.” He has been the lead anchor for the USC Football Radio Network, and most recently began anchoring duties for the L.A. Dodgers Television Network.
|Mark McGrath signs his name to the charity auction helmet. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)|
• Mark McGrath (@Mark_Mcgrath) : Lead singer of Sugar Ray. He has graced the cover of Rolling Stone and hosted “EXTRA!,” “Killer Karaoke” and “Don’t Forget the Lyrics.” He also appeared on NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice.”
|Raul Mendez is cool before taking turns on the TGPLB temporary street track. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)|
• Raul Mendez (@raulmijomendez) : Considered by many in Mexico as one of the finest actors of his generation. Best known for his role as ‘Victor ‘Chacorta’ Casillas’ in “El Señor de los Cielos.” He will also be featured in the soon to be released “Texas Rising” with Bill Paxton, Ray Liotta and Brendan Fraser.
|Joshua Morrow is happy to be a competitor for charity at the TPCR. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)|
• Joshua Morrow (@JoshuaMorrowyr) : Soap Opera Digest award-winning actor starring as ‘Nicolas Newman’ on the No. 1 daytime drama, “The Young and The Restless.”
|Robert Patrick strikes the visage of a serious driver while in the TPCR paddock. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)|
• Robert Patrick (@RobertPatrickT2) : Actor whose breakthrough role came as the legendary T-1000 in Terminator 2. He has been featured in iconic films such as “Die Hard 2,” “Last Action Hero,” “Flags of Our Fathers,” “Walk the Line,” and is currently starring as ‘Agent Cabe Gallow' on CBS’s “Scorpion.”
|Mekhi Phifer posed with Suger Ray frontman Mark McGrath and Miss TGPLB Jessica Jenkins. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)|
• Mekhi Phifer (@MekhiPhifer) : Actor who portrayed ‘Dr. Greg Pratt’ on NBC’s long-running medical drama “ER,” and had a co-starring role opposite Eminem in the feature film “8 Mile.” He also starred in the feature film “Divergent” and the upcoming sequel, “Insurgent.”
|John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls looks to secure his right shoulder strap of the 5-way seat belt harness before taking to the TGPLB temporary street track for the first time. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)|
• John Rzeznik (@JohnRzeznikggd) : Guitarist and frontman of the Goo Goo Dolls, who have sold more than 10 million albums, with 13 Number One and Top Ten hit singles including, “Black Balloon,” “Iris” and “Slide.” The Goo Goo Dolls are currently touring in support of their 10th studio album, MAGNETIC.
Drivers who will compete in the “Pro-Division,” starting 30 seconds behind the others, include NHRA Top Fuel Champion and four celebrities who have won the Pro/Celebrity Race in past years:
|Antron Brown (C) shares picking his car with some of his new found friends (L to R); Willie Gault, Donna Feldman, Jessica Jenkins, and Steve Mason. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)|
• Antron Brown (@AntronBrown) : A NHRA 2012 Top Fuel champion. Brown is the first African American to win the Top Fuel championship. He is currently driving the Matco Tools Toyota for Don Schumacher Racing in Top Fuel Division.
|Brett Davern inspects signatures on the autograph auction helmet. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)|
• Brett Davern (@BDavv) : The returning champion of the 2014 Pro/Celebrity Race. He stars as ‘Jake Rosati' in MTV's hit series “Awkward.” In 2013, he filmed the Beach Boys bio-pic “Love & Mercy” playing the young ‘Carl Wilson.’ He also played the lead in the feature film “Born to Race 2: Fast Track.”
|Alfonso Ribeiro follows in the steps of fellow "Dancing With The Stars" winner, IndyCar driver Helio Castroneves, taking to the streets of Long Beach during the 2015 TGPLB. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)|
• Alfonso Ribeiro (Alfonso_Ribeiro) : A two-time Toyota Pro/Celebrity race winner (1994 & 1995). Best-known for his role as ‘Carlton’ on “Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” last season Ribeiro took home the coveted Mirror Ball trophy on “Dancing With the Stars.”
|Ladies and Gentlemen, to your cars, reads Dara Torres' cell phone screen. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)|
• Dara Torres (@DaraTorres) : 12-time Olympic medalist swimmer, who was named one of the “Top Female Athletes of the Decade” by Sports Illustrated. In 2002, Torres was the first female celebrity to win the Toyota Pro/Celebrity race, joined in Victory Lane by Pro category winner Danica Patrick.
|Rutledge Wood (R) shares a little trash talkin' with fellow Pro driver Brett Davern. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)|
• Rutledge Wood (@RutledgeWood) : Co-host of “Top Gear USA,” NBC Sports Reporter, Host of History Channel’s “Lost in Transmission.” Wood won the Pro/Celebrity Race in 2013.
|Auction winner driving for charity is Dave Pasant who hopes he doesn't become "Road Hard." Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)|
Rounding out the field is the Grand Prix Foundation of Long Beach charity auction winner Dave Pasant , a retired insurance executive. Pasant is also an executive producer of the recently released film “Road Hard,” written by and starring Adam Carolla.
“This is an impressive and competitive group of stars, athletes, musicians and pro drivers that will put on a great show,” Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach said. “We are excited to have another thrilling year of the Pro/Celebrity Race as part of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. And thanks to Toyota, the Pro/Celebrity Race gives back to kids in our communities through donations to Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach and Children's Hospital of Orange County.”
Since 1991, Toyota has donated more than $2 million to the “Racing for Kids” organization on behalf of this race and its participants.
Fans can follow (and find out about tickets for) the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Facebook at GrandPrixLB, Twitter @ToyotaGPLB (#TGPLB) and Instagram at ToyotaGPLB.
... notes from The EDJE