A star-studded cast of some of America’s favorite celebrities from film, television, sports and music will take to the streets of Long Beach, Calif. April 15-16, 2011, to challenge a group of talented professional race-car drivers in the 35th annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race. The Hollywood stars are prepared to meet the high-speed challenge to support Racing for Kids, a national nonprofit program benefiting children’s hospitals in Long Beach and Orange County, Calif.. Pictured with Artist Raj Champaneri are Celebrities: AJ Buckley, Kim Coates, William Fichtner, Daniel Goddard, Djimon Honsou, Kevin Jonas, Stephen Moyer, Tito Ortiz, Megyn Price, Jillian Barberie Reynolds, Michael Trucco, charity auction winner Jerry Westlund, Toyota dealer Mike Sullivan. In the “Pro” category: 2010 winner Brian Austin Green, TV star and Pro driver Frankie Muniz, Ken Gushi, Kody Swanson, Christian Rado. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2011)
2011 Long Beach Toyota Pro-Celebrity Race Media Day - Car Drawing & Charity RajArt Signing
At the Media Day Luncheon, Pros and Celebrities mix with the Press as they draw for the specially prepared, Toyota Corporation, Scion tCs car they will drive in the charity race that is in its 35th year. After drawing their car, they then signed a special piece of art created by Raj Champaneri for an auction to be held at a charity event held during the 37th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach event.
Artist Raj Champaneri doesn't say much especially about his art and design work ... here are a few impressions he delivered at an interview while on location, recently. Raj says that he is blessed with a talent, that he has been touched to be able to provide such entertainment to all kinds of people, from children to adults, 'everyone has something to say'... "I am even more blessed that I can use my gifts for so much good; in preparing art and design work for charities creating an even greater good for all people, especially for children" (hence his connection with the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race). His art work has generated a good sum of money for many various charities around the world, benefiting those in need.
This excerpted and edited from the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach media guide -
“FUELED BY FAME”: Celebs Gear Up For the Annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race
As the world’s longest-running and most prestigious celebrity racing event, the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race has introduced more than 540 celebrities to the sport of race-car competition. Pitting popular personalities against professional racers, the 10-lap sprint around the 1.97-mile downtown Long Beach street circuit begins as an even field, as drivers get behind the wheel of identical race-ready Scion tCs.
Raj Champaneri, of East Indian descent, was born and raised in England and has been residing with his family in Los Angeles for over 25 years. His fascination with Art and Design, especially with cars dates back to his childhood days, when he dismantled his fathers estate car (station wagon) to conceptualize if stream-lined headlamps and a slant front-end would make the car go faster!!! Raj now prepares each masterpiece from his studios in Los Angeles, for clients and customers from all over the world. His renditions cover a wide subject matter, however the art work is immediately recognizable, and unmistakably unique. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2011)
The lineup of 18 drivers includes celebrities, proven professionals and a charity auction winner:
She normally reports on the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race from her anchor’s seat in the “Good Day LA” studio, but this year JILLIAN BARBERIE REYNOLDS is switching gears and getting behind the wheel to take a shot at winning the grand prize. As co-host of the Emmy Award–winning, top-rated Fox morning show for the past 15 years, Reynolds created the much loved segments “Style File” and “Adopt a Pet.” In 2000, she added another show to her hosting résumé by joining “Fox NFL Sunday,” which she co-hosts each week during the NFL season alongside Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long and Jimmy Johnson.
Multi-talented actor/writer/director/producer AJ BUCKLEY currently stars as Adam Ross on the CBS hit series “CSI: NY.” But he has a range of experience on other well-known and critically acclaimed series and films, including “The In Crowd” and “Blue Car” on the big screen and “Entourage,” “Without a Trace,” “NYPD Blue,” “Bones” and “The X-Files” on the small screen. A guest-starring role on the popular CW series “Supernatural” as Ed Zeddmore, the leader of a group of wannabe ghost hunters, led to the opportunity for Buckley to write, direct and star in the original Web-based series “The Ghostfacers.” He also stars in the Syfy film “The Doomsday Scrolls.”
KIM COATES currently appears as mercurial motorcycle club sergeant-at-arms Tig Trager on the FX hit series “Sons of Anarchy.” His film career kicked off with a bang in 1991 with “The Last Boy Scout,” and he’s since starred in more than 40 films, including the Academy Award–winning “Black Hawk Down,” “Pearl Harbor,” “The Client” and “Open Range.” He has six films opening in 2011: “Goon,” “Sacrifice,” “A Little Help,” “Sinners and Saints,” “Robosapien” and “Blood the Butchers Tale.” Coates starred on Broadway as Stanley Kowalski in “A Streetcar Named Desire” and held the title role in “Macbeth” at the legendary Stratford Theatre.
Versatile character actor WILLIAM FICHTNER has appeared in such big-screen blockbusters as “Armageddon,” “Black Hawk Down,” “The Perfect Storm,” “Date Night,” “Blades of Glory” and Michael Mann’s “Heat.” He was one of the winners of the Screen Actors Guild award for Best Ensemble Cast in a Feature Film for his performance in Paul Haggis’ Academy Award–winning “Crash.” He starred for three seasons in Fox’s hit drama “Prison Break” and can next be seen in theaters in the Nicolas Cage action movie “Drive Hard 3D.”
DANIEL GODDARD is best known as Cain on the soap opera “The Young and the Restless.” The Australian native also starred as television’s “Beastmaster” and appeared in the long-running Aussie soap opera “Home and Away.” Other small screen work includes parts in such series as “Lightspeed” and “Monk.” On the big screen, he’s appeared in such films as “The Perfect Sleep,” “These Boots Are Made for Walking,” “Dream Warrior” and “Immortally Yours.”
Returning from the 2010 Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race is popular actor BRIAN AUSTIN GREEN, who will vie this year in the pro category. Green most recently appeared as a recurring character on the ABC hit series “Desperate Housewives.” He gained overnight success for his role as David Silver on the teen phenomenon television series “Beverly Hills, 90210,” which ran for 10 years. Green also produced 40 episodes of the show. He was a series regular on Fox’s critically acclaimed “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.” His additional TV credits include “Smallville,” “Las Vegas,” “Hope & Faith” and a lead role on “Freddie.” He directed his first feature film, “Fish Without a Bicycle,” in 2003.
Two-time Academy Award–nominated actor DJIMON HOUNSOU was first noticed by audiences in Steven Spielberg’s 1997 historical drama “Amistad.” Following that film, he appeared in roles in films including the Oscar-winning “Gladiator,” Michael Bay’s “The Island,” the thriller “Constantine,” the comedy “Beauty Shop” and Shekhar Kapur’s “The Four Feathers,” with Heath Ledger and Kate Hudson. He received Oscar nominations for his accomplished performances in the critically acclaimed “In America” and “Blood Diamond.”
Pop musical group, Jonas Brothes, Kevin Jonas, is a 35-1 shot (odds set in Las Vegas) at winning the Toyota Pro/celerity Race. The musician is tied for last spot primarily because of his inexperience with a stick shift, and because he missed the last training — which was a rainy one. But to Jonas’s credit, he learned quickly; he’ll just need to hope for a sunny race. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2011)
With his world-famous brothers, KEVIN JONAS has an impressive list of accomplishments, including 12 Teen Choice awards, numerous Grammy and Emmy award nominations, a No. 1 New York Times bestselling children’s book, the third-highest-grossing 3-D concert movie of all time and 2008’s No. 1 cable telecast, the Disney Channel original movie “Camp Rock.” The Jonas Brothers made SoundScan history as the only artist to hold three titles in the Top 10, with their third album, “A Little Bit Longer,” at No. 1; the “Camp Rock” soundtrack at No. 8; and their sophomore album, “Jonas Brothers,” at No. 10 on the Billboard Top 200. Their fourth album, “Lines, Vines and Trying Times,” debuted at No. 1 and was one of 2009’s top album debuts.
STEPHEN MOYER plays vampire Bill Compton on HBO’s Golden Globe–nominated series “True Blood,” which will soon return for its fourth season. He’s recently completed filming “Ice,” “Tribes of October” and “The Caller,” and will soon begin work on “Big Valley.” He can be seen next on the big screen in “Priest,” alongside Paul Bettany and Cam Gigandet.
Actor-turned-pro racer FRANKIE MUNIZ is returning for his fourth Toyota Pro/Celebrity race. Best known to fans as the eponymous star of the popular Fox series “Malcolm in the Middle,” Muniz put his acting career on hold after his win in the 2005 Toyota Pro/Celebrity race to pursue professional racing. He has also appeared in such films as “My Dog Skip,” “Agent Cody Banks,” “Big Fat Liar” and “Stay Alive.” He will next be seen on screen in the superhero comedy “Pizza Man,” not yet released.
Legendary ultimate fighter TITO ORTIZ won his first-ever fight—as an amateur in the Ultimate Fighting championships while he was a college student—in 31 seconds. He went on to win the Light Heavyweight Championship by defeating Wanderlei Silva at UFC 25 in Japan. He defended his championship six times, until surrendering it to fellow ultimate-fighting legend Randy Couture at UFC 44. Ortiz coached the third and 11th seasons of “The Ultimate Fighter” and wrote a bestselling autobiography, “This Is Gonna Hurt.”
Returning for her second consecutive year, television actress MEGYN PRICE is best known for her current role on the hit CBS comedy “Rules of Engagement” with David Spade and co-star Patrick Warburton. Price also starred as Claudia Finnerty in the sitcom “Grounded for Life.” Other television credits include “LateLine” and the animated series “American Dad!”
MICHAEL TRUCCO currently stars in the new USA Network series “Fairly Legal,” opposite Sarah Shahi. The actor, probably best known for his portrayal of Samuel Anders in three seasons of the critically acclaimed series “Battlestar Galactica,” recently guested in a multi-episode arc as Det. Tom Demming on the hit show “Castle,” starring Nathan Fillion. Prior to that, he appeared in a recurring role on “Beverly Hills, 90210” and then starred for two seasons on “Pensacola: Wings of Gold,” with James Brolin. His breakout role was in the big-screen blockbuster “A Few Good Men.”
Compact Drag-Racer, Chris Rado as he signs art for charity. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2011)
Vying for a win in the pro category alongside last year’s celebrity winner Green and star-turned-pro driver Muniz are KEN GUSHI, CHRIS RADO and KODY SWANSON.
GUSHI, a drift car champion and member of the Scion Racing team, is the youngest drifting competitor in both the D1 Grand Prix of Japan and the Formula Drift Championships of the U.S.
RADO is the owner of WORLD Racing and one of the leaders of the professional compact drag racing circuit and, in 2009, was the first front-wheel-drive vehicle driver in history to run a six-second quarter mile.
SWANSON is a midget-car series champion who began racing—and winning titles—before graduating from the eighth grade.
MIKE SULLIVAN, owner of Toyota of Hollywood and Toyota of Santa Monica, is filling the Southern California Toyota dealer seat.
Rounding out the field is the charity auction winner: JERRY WESTLUND, who is returning for the second consecutive year. He won the opportunity to race due to his generous donation in a charity auction.
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. Additionally, a $15,000 donation will be made in conjunction with the 14th 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 15.
The Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race takes place the following day, Saturday, April 16. In addition to participating in a practice session and a qualifying race on April 15, the drivers’ schedules include a visit to Long Beach’s Memorial Miller Children’s Hospital, which receives a charitable donation in their names from Toyota.
On behalf of the race and its participants, Toyota has donated more than $1.9 million to various children’s hospitals since 1991. Learn more about the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, one of six main-event attractions taking place during the 37th annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach - HERE.
... notes from The EDJE