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 this weekend to challenge a group of professional race-car drivers in the 35th Annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, one of six main-event attractions taking place during the 37th annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. 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.
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.
The lineup of 18 drivers includes celebrities, proven professionals and a charity auction winner. The 2011 field will include: Good Day LA anchor Jillian Barberie Reynolds; CSI:NY’s AJ Buckley; FX hit series Sons of Anarchy’s Kim Coates; character actor William Fichtner, who has appeared in the films Armageddon and Black Hawk Down; actor Daniel Goddard of The Young and the Restless; Brian Austin Green, from Desperate Housewives and Beverly Hills 90210; two-time Academy Award-nominated actor Djimon Hounsou; Kevin Jonas, of the pop group The Jonas Brothers; Stephen Moyer, who plays vampire Bill Compton on HBO’s Golden Globe–nominated series True Blood; actor-turned-pro racer Frankie Muniz, who played the eponymous character on the Fox series Malcolm in the Middle; ultimate fighter Tito Ortiz; actress Megyn Price, of the CBS comedy Rules of Engagement; and actor Michael Trucco, of the new USA Network series Fairly Legal.
Vying for a win in the pro category alongside last year’s celebrity winner Green and Muniz are Ken Gushi, Chris Rado, and Kody Swanson. 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.