Palmer to Defend Celebrity Title at 24 Annual Long Beach Grand Prix

LONG BEACH, Calif.–Feb. 28, 2000–Shaun Palmer along with major stars from film, television, and sports are set to face off in the world’s longest-running, most successful celebrity auto racing event.

Toyota Motorsports today announced one of its most exciting fields in the history of the 24th annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race to be held in Long Beach, Calif. on Saturday, April 15. The 10-lap race, held on the 1.99-mile Champ Car track, will be part of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach race weekend.

The expected field of 18 features an eclectic group of entertainment personalities, internationally renowned celebrities, and figures from sports and media.

Stars driving in the race include: George Lucas (creator of the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” films), Ashley Judd (star of “Double Jeopardy” and “Eye of the Beholder”), Christian Slater (star of “Very Bad Things”), John Elway (two-time NFL Super Bowl champion), Alyson Hannigan (“Willow Rosenberg” in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), Antonio Sabato, Jr. (Calvin Klein model and author of “No Excuses”), Rachel Hunter (actress and cover model), and Josh Brolin (“Mod Squad”).

Returning to defend his title is the 1999 Toyota Pro/Celebrity race champion, Shaun Palmer, one of the most dominating athletes in the world of extreme sports. Palmer, three-time Winter Extreme Games gold medalist and five-time Snowboard World Champion, will compete in the professional category at this year’s race.

Additionally, three other professional drivers are competing for the checkered flag including: Lyn St. James, one of the top women race car drivers in the world, Robin Yount, baseball Hall of Famer and Derek Daly, Formula 1 racer.

“The Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race is renowned for attracting top-name celebrity and professional drivers because it offers the high speed and challenge of real car racing,” said Les Unger, Toyota’s national motorsports manager. “We have one of our most diverse group of drivers ever for this year’s event and expect a tremendous battle to the finish line.”

Also included in the current field of drivers are Dutch Mandel (editor of AutoWeek), as well as Jon Shirley and Don Simons, who both earned a spot by making a bid of $110,000 each at last year’s Toyota Grand Prix Charity Ball auction for the 2000 Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race seat.

The 10-lap race, held on the 1.99-mile Champ Car track, features a field of approximately 18 drivers and will be broadcast in its entirety on ESPN, Sunday, April 30 at 2:30 p.m. EST and again on ESPN2 on Thursday, May 11 at 6 p.m. EST.

As part of the race event, Toyota will help raise more than $100,000 this year for “Racing for Kids,” a non-profit program benefiting Southern California children’s hospitals in Long Beach, Los Angeles and Orange County, by donating $5,000 in the name of each participant. Another $5,000 will be awarded to the race winner’s charity of choice.

Finally, a $10,000 donation will also be made in conjunction with the 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 14. Throughout the past nine years, the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race has generated nearly $800,000 for charity.