Tribute To The Final Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race #TPCR40 After 40 Year Run
So just how does an annual charity event that lasts 40 years and raises more than $2.3 million to the “Racing for Kids” organization on behalf of this race and its participants by Toyota Motor Company get started?
According to Chris Pook, founder and organizer of the Grand Prix of Long Beach, through a simple gathering of motorsport competitors at a pre-race C-300 volunteer organization cocktail reception. A party where a prodding and joking attitude spurs the wish to see famous world champions and motor culture standouts racing side-by-side on a young, newly formed street race course.
The gathered group with Chris Pook included Theodore Racing Formula One car constructor from Hong Kong - Teddy Yip, INDY500/CART/NASCAR car builder, team owner, driver, and 11 year world Formula One competitor - Dan Gurney, former world Formula One champion - Phil Hill, and world Formula One champion - Graham Hill. The conversation that had Teddy Yip mention how great it would be to see these famous people perform in a demonstration race was shared with the Toyota Motor Company's Marketing Director for the Toyota offices in Torrance - Al Hagen ... and the rest, as they say, is history (see video above).
Another ex-F1 driver, Bob Bondurant, showed up and in 1975, four Toyota Celica cars, outfitted with Simpson 5-way driver harnesses, performed a five lap exhibition race on the track through the streets of Long Beach.
|The race-ready, identically-prepared Toyota Scion FR-S cars will produce 210 horsepower, and are equipped with performance enhancements - VIDEO. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2016)|
This final edition here in 2016 was raced with equally race-prepared 210-horsepower Toyota Scion FR-S 2-door sport coups.
The 40th Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race “Racing For Kids” charity all-star participants were a field of intensely competitive personalities who laid it all out for the final trophy and bragging rights. Listed in order of their first win in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race and the years they performed in the race as follows:
Al Unser, Jr. (@AlUnserJr) 1985, 2009 and 2014
Pro/ Overall winner in 1985, 2009, Pro winner in 2014. Dubbed “King of the Beach,” as the winningest driver in Long Beach, with six Indy Car wins and three Pro/Celebrity wins. Also a 2-time Indy 500 winner, and 2-time IndyCar Champion.
Ricky Schroder 1989 and 1996
Celebrity/ Overall winner in 1989. Most recently starred in “Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors.” Golden Globe winning actor best-known for roles in “Silver Spoons,” “NYPD Blue” and “Get Him to the Greek.”
Eddie Lawson 1993
Pro/ Overall winner in 1993. Motorcycle Hall of Famer and four-time 500cc World Champion. He also earned back-to-back AMA 250 Grand Prix Series, AMA Superbike Series Championships, won the prestigious Suzuka 8 Hour race, and was a two-time winner of the Daytona 200.
Alfonso Ribeiro (@Alfonso_Ribeiro) 1994, 1995, 1996 and 2015
Celebrity/ Overall winner in 1994 & 1995, Pro/ Overall winner in 2015. Currently the host of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” on ABC and “Unwrapped 2.0” on the Cooking Channel. Known for his iconic role of Carlton on “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and in 2014, he took home the coveted Mirror Ball trophy on “Dancing With the Stars.”
Rod Millen (@LeadFootNZ) 1992 and 1995
Pro winner in 1995. Winner of three-consecutive Grand National Sport Truck titles, 5-time Toyota Pikes Peak Unlimited class winner, and 3-time Toyota off-road stadium truck champion.
Sean Patrick Flanery (@SeanFlanery) 1997 and 1998
Celebrity/ Overall Winner in 1997, Pro/ Overall Winner in 1998. A television and film actor, best-known for his roles in “Powder,” “Boondock Saints” and Showtime’s “Dexter.” His second book, Jane Two: A Novel, drops in April.
Dara Torres (@DaraTorres) 2002, 2004 and 2015
Celebrity/ Overall winner in 2002. 12-time Olympic medalist swimmer, who was named as one of the “Top Female Athletes of the Decade” by Sports Illustrated. In 2002, she was the first woman to win the Toyota Pro/Celebrity race.
Max Papis (@MaxPapis) 2004
Pro/ Overall winner in 2004. “Mad Max,” a stock car race driver has competed in many top-level motorsports events including the Le Mans 24 Hours, Formula One and Champ Car. He has three Champ Car victories.
Chris McDonald (@YesItsChrisMcD) 2001, 2004 and 2005
Celebrity winner in 2004. Currently co-starring in HBO’s “Ballers,” after a stint on CBS’s “The Good Wife.” He has starred in over 100 movies, but is best-known for playing ‘Shooter McGavin’ in “Happy Gilmore.”
Frankie Muniz (@FrankieMuniz) 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2011
Celebrity winner in 2005. Starred in “Sharknado: Heart of Sharkness,” and best-known for his role in “Malcolm in the Middle.” His diverse resume also includes race car driver, drummer of pop-rock group’s Kingsfoil, and Ambassador for the Armed Forces Foundation.
Mike Skinner (@SkinnerRoundUp) 2007 and 2008
Pro winner in 2007 & 2008. 1995 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion, and the 1997 Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year. He has competed in over 550 races in NASCAR’s top three divisions.
Doug Fregin 2009, 2012 and 2014
Charity auction winner in 2009, 2012 & 2014. He has donated over $320,000 to “Racing For Kids.” Co-Founder of Research in Motion (now Blackberry) and Quantum Valley Investments Fund.
Brian Austin Green 1997, 2010 and 2011
Celebrity winner in 2010. An actor, director, and producer, who came to fame on “Beverly Hills, 90210,” recently starred on “Anger Management” on FX. He’s also known for roles in “Desperate Housewives,” “Smallville” and “Las Vegas.”
Jimmy Vasser (@JimmyVasser) 2010
Pro/ Overall winner in 2010. Former Toyota Atlantic Series and IndyCar driver. 1996 IndyCar World Series Champion. He is an IndyCar team owner, and owns three Toyota dealerships.
Ken Gushi (@KenGushi) 2011
Pro winner in 2011. He was once the youngest, most successful drift competitor in Japan, and in the U.S. With numerous Top 3 finishes in national and international drifting competitions, his racing career has just begun.
William Fichtner 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2012
Celebrity/ Overall winner in 2011. A television, theater and film star, he will be seen in the June releases of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” and “Independence Day: Resurgence.”
Adam Carolla (@AdamCarolla) 2003, 2010, 2012 and 2013
Celebrity/ Overall winner in 2012, Pro winner in 2013. He is best known as a comedian, actor, radio personality, television host and New York Times bestselling author. He can be heard daily on his podcast “The Adam Carolla Show.”
Rutledge Wood (@RutledgeWood) 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015
Celebrity/ Overall winner in 2013. A NASCAR analyst for NBC Sports, he can also be seen in History Channel’s “Lost In Transmission,” and as co-host of “Top Gear USA” which just finished filming its sixth season.
Brett Davern (@BDavv) 2013, 2014 and 2015
Celebrity/ Overall winner in 2014. Actor who stars as ‘Jake Rosati’ in MTV's hit series “Awkward.” He recently appeared in the Beach Boys bio-pic “Love & Mercy” and “The Stanford Prison Experiment.”
Dave Pasant 2001, 2002, 2003, 2010, 2013 and 2015
Celebrity winner in 2015, and 7-time charity auction winner. A retired insurance executive, he has participated in this race six times, donating a total of $417,000 to “Racing For Kids.” He is also an executive producer of “Road Hard,” starring Adam Carolla.
Carter is the Senior Vice President of Automotive Operations for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A.
The race, itself, was as raucous a contest as was predicted ... damaged cars, YELLOW Flags, and a FULL Course Red Flag stopping the field during the race due to the potential injuring of a course worker that could have ended up a lot worse than it looked on the broadcast ... which was bad.
In the end, Alfonso Ribeiro won the 40th and final Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, truly a fan favorite event at the Grand Prix of Long Beach that will be missed more than Toyota or the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, at this moment, knows.
"I owe an awful lot to the city of Long Beach, they've been so supportive, and to Toyota, 40 years putting on this fantastic Pro/Celebrity Race and promoting Long Beach the way they have," Ribeiro said.
Max Papis won the Pro category by finishing 4.872 seconds behind Ribeiro.
"It is just an amazing event and who won was the kids this event supports," said Papis. "This is the best street course in America, maybe the world."
Rod Millen, the Pro winner in 1995, was third and followed by Adam Carolla and Mike Skinner, the Pro winner in 2007 and 2008.
Race Overview Here >>>
(contains photos of the drivers at race's end performing donuts for the crowd)
Finishing Order Here >>>
“The pace of this race was extremely fast and the drivers were very competitive at the start,” said President and CEO of the Grand Prix Association Jim Michaelian. “There was some exciting action in the field that had the fans on their feet, and we are glad everyone will walk away unscathed.
Congratulations to Alfonso Ribeiro on his victory. A special thanks to all this year’s participants who helped make the final race exciting. All their enthusiasm is, ultimately, for a great cause, and the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race was proud to be able to make it happen one last time.”
|Trophy celebration for one last time for this enjoyable TGPLB event fan favorite. Standing on the Victory Circle Podium is (L to R) Max Papis P2, Alfonso Ribeiro P1, and P3 Rod Millen. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2016)|
Toyota will donate $5,000 to Racing for Kids in the name of each participant, for a total of $100,000, and an additional $5,000 to Fresh Start Surgical Gifts on behalf of Ribeiro. Fresh Start Surgical Gifts is a national nonprofit program benefiting infants, children and teens with physical deformities caused by birth defects, accidents, abuse or disease through the gift of reconstructive surgery.
The Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race is scheduled to be broadcast on CBS Sportsnet on May 8 at 6 PM ET, and will re-air numerous times. (Check your local listings for details)
Fans can follow the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Facebook at GrandPrixLB, Twitter @ToyotaGPLB (#TPCR40) and Instagram at ToyotaGPLB.
... notes from The EDJE
TAGS: Al Unser Jr., Jimmy Vasser, Eddie Lawson, Rod Millen, Max Papis, Mike Skinner and Ken Gushi, Stephen Baldwin, Ricky Schroder, Alfonso Ribeiro, Chris McDonald, Frankie Muniz, Brian Austin Green, William Fichtner, Adam Carolla and Brett Davern, Rutledge Wood, Dara Torres, Bob Carter, Dave Passant, Doug Fregin, Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, #TPCR40, Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach, #TGPLB42, Chris Pook, Teddy Yip, Dan Gurney, Phil Hill, Graham Hill, Bob Bondurant, Al Hagen, Toyota