Say It Ain’t So: Toyota Celebrity Race Coming To An End

At least we get one more chance to see Frankie Muniz.

bySteve Cole Smith| PUBLISHED Apr 10, 2016 4:21 PM
Say It Ain’t So: Toyota Celebrity Race Coming To An End

Somebody make that sad trombone sound, please: Waah waah waah.

After this year, there will be no more Toyota Pro/Celebrity races at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Toyota says it can no longer support the competition, and insists it has nothing to do with the move of its headquarters from the Los Angeles area to Dallas. They still have a contract to be the title sponsor of the Grand Prix through 2017, though.

The real losers here, of course: Body repair shops in the Long Beach area.

The spice up the 40th and final race, though, they’ve invited back a bunch of former winners.

Here’s the announcement in part: “At Toyota, we wanted to do something unique for this final race,” said Ed Laukes, vice president of marketing, performance and guest experience for Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A. “By hosting a field comprised mostly of past Toyota Pro/Celebrity winners, we anticipate this to be the most competitive race in the event’s history with a diverse field of celebrity and professional drivers.”

This unique field of past Toyota Pro, Celebrity and Overall winners will once again take to the streets in 210-horsepower Scion FR-S race-prepped cars, navigating high speeds and demanding turns to benefit “Racing For Kids,” a charitable organization supporting children’s hospitals throughout the United States. 

The announced field of intensely competitive personalities who will duke it out for the final trophy and bragging rights, includes, in order of their first win in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race and the years they participated in the race:

Rutledge Wood (seen above): Celebrity/overall winner in 2013. NASCAR analyst for NBC, and star of "Top Gear USA."

Al Unser, Jr: 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.”

Stephen Baldwin: Pro/ Overall winner in 1993.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.

Dara Torres: 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: 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.

Frankie Muniz: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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.”

Brett Davern: 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: 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.

Chris McDonald:  Celebrity winner in 2004. Stars on HBO's "Ballers," and played Shooter McGavin in "Happy Gilmore."

Bob Carter: Carter is the Senior Vice President of Automotive Operations for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A.

“This should be a thrilling race with so many of the participants past winners here at Long Beach,” Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach said. “It will be interesting to see who best recalls the racing technique that will enable them to once again stand on top of the podium.”

Since 1991, Toyota has donated more than $2.3 million to the “Racing for Kids” organization on behalf of this race and its participants.