2009 Long Beach Grand Prix Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race – Keanu & Unsur Jr Victorious
This year featured a nice mix of athletes, actors and media folks competing along side a group of professional veterans at the 33rd annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race on April 18, 2009. The race was the usual 10 laps around the 1.97 mile course through the streets of Long Beach in slightly modified Scion tC cars (replacing the previous stock Toyota Celicas in 2006). Professional skateboarder Danny Way locked down the pole position with the fastest celebrity qualifying time. It doesn’t hurt that he also holds the land speed record on a skateboard at 74.5 mph. Vegas handicappers gave the nod to Danny Way going into the race against the field of 18 celebrities. Keanu “Speed” Reeves and Fonzworth Bentley rounded out the top three. For the pros, Al Unser Jr., Johnny Benson and Tom Rudnai took the top three qualifying slots.
The celebrities were granted a 30 second head start against the pros and other past winners. But once again, Al Unser Jr. took home another title, “King of the Beach,” by winning the overall trophy at the 2009 Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race. He grabbed the lead on lap 8 and held the rest of the field in his rear view mirror to take the checkered flag. The other pros, Johnny Benson and Tom Tudnai, came in right behind as it was in qualifying. Danny Way was killing the track before crashing into Turn 1, luckily hitting the tire barrier and not the concrete K rails. This gave Keanu Reeves his chance to slide into first for the celebrities and bring it home, finishing 4th overall.
Here is the list of celebrity participants:
Adrien Brody – actor, Cadillac Records, The Darjeeling Limited, King Kong, etc.
Keanu Reeves – actor, The Matrix series, The Replacements, Speed, etc.
Tim Daly – actor, Wings, The Sopranos
Alex Trebek – host of Jeapardy
Raven Symone – R&B singer and actress, Cosby, That’s So Raven, College Road Trip, etc.
Eric Close – actor, Without a Trace, Dark Skies
Mary Lynn Rakskub – actress, 24, Legally Blond 2, Dude Where’s My Car
Carlos Mencia – comedian
Fonzworth Bentley – P Diddy’s personal assistant, author, tv show From G’s to Gents
Ken Baker – Executive News editor of E! Entertainment
The Pro category included:
Jamie Little – ESPN/ABC Pit reporter for NASCAR (Winner of 2008 race)
AL Unser Sr. – 6 time Toyota GP of Long Beach champ, 2 time Indy 500 winner, etc.
Johnny Benson – 2008 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion
Coy Gibbs – owner of JGRMX Supercross/Motocross Team
Tom Rudnai – president of Longo Toyota (winner of 2001 race)
Douglas Fregin – online charity auction winner, co-founder of RIM
Annamarie Dean – Boys & Girls Club charity auction winner