Yesterday, he good folks from the Long Beach Grand Prix Association and Formula Drift were kind enough to invite me out to their official media day for the Toyota Pro Celebrity race and Formula Drift Round 1. Just the chance to see the new Scion FR-S Pro-Celebrity race cars was worth getting out of bed early and sitting in 710 south traffic.
The whole day was all about getting to know this year’s participants in the Toyota Pro Celebrity Race as well as getting an early peek at some of the new drift cars for the 2013 Formula Drift season. There was tons of on-track action on both sides as well as ride-a-longs. I have a few shots below but for the full gallery check out our facebook page.
The 2013 Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach is about a month away and the wheels are officially in motion (no pun intended). Today, the list of participants in this year’s Toyota Pro-Celebrity Race were announced and it looks like some favorites are returning but there will be some new faces as well. Last year’s winner, Adam Corolla will be returning to defend his crown and Top Gear USA host Rutledge Wood will also once again return to the grid. Also joining the race this year is Michelle Rodriguez AKA “Letty” from the upcoming Fast 6 movie.
The Pro-Celebrity race is one of my favorite parts of the weekend. Me and my friends like to call the race “celebrity pinball” because its almost guranteed the drivers are going to bounce off each other or the walls. It really is great fun to watch and this year will be the first that the Scion FR-S is the official race car and I think the first time in history that the Toyota Pro-Celebrity race is run with rear-wheel drive cars. This is going to be awesome!
And, as always the real winner in all of this are the Children’s Hospital of Orange County, Miller’s Children’s Hospital of Long Beach, and the Racing For Kids Foundation. All of these great organizations get donations every year from Toyota, the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, and the race participants.
For the full list of race participants, scroll down…
Cristian Castro (@CristianCastro):Grammy Award-nominated and best-selling Mexican pop singer. Famous from a young age, one of his best known albums is “Mi Vida Sin Tu Amor,” with four singles in the top ten of Billboard’s Hot Latin tracks. In April, he will release a new album “Primera Fila,” celebrating 20 years as a singer.
Kate del Castillo (@katedelcastillo):Mexico’s most acclaimed actress, best known for her starring role in long-running mini-series “La Reina del Sur.” Other credits include “Under the Same Moon,” “Trade” and a guest appearance on the Showtime series “Weeds.”
Brett Davern(@BDavv): Actor who stars as Jake Rosati in MTV’s hit series “Awkward.” Other credits include the film, “Beautiful Ohio” and appearances in “Cold Case,” “CSI: Miami,” “In Plain Sight,” and “Medium.”
Jenna Elfman(@JennaElfman): Actress known for her quirky role on the TV series “Dharma & Greg,” which earned her a Golden Globe Award. She now stars as the first lady in the family comedy “1600 Penn.” Film credits include “Friends with Benefits” and “Keeping the Faith.”
Jessica Hardy(@swimhardy): A multiple world record-holder in swimming and a 2012 Olympic medalist. A Long Beach, Calif. native, she also does motivational speaking and served as an ambassador for the United States Olympic Committee Team For Tomorrow.
Jesse Metcalfe(@JesseMetcalfe):Actor best known for his role as a teen gardener on “Desperate Housewives” and who currently stars in the TNT continuation of “Dallas,” based on the 1978 series of the same name. Film credits include “John Tucker Must Die” and “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.”
Dakota Meyer (@Dakota_Meyer): Former U.S. Marine who received the Medal of Honor for his 2009 actions in Afghanistan. He wrote, Into the Fire: A Firsthand Account of the Most Extraordinary Battle in the Afghan War, fundraises with the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, and has partnered with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for the Hiring Our Heroes program.
Jackson Rathbone (@JacksonRathbone): Actor best known for playing Jasper Hale in the hit “Twilight” movie series. Other film credits include “The Last Airbender.”
Michelle Rodriguez (@MRodOfficial): Film actress best known for her tough girl physical roles, including starring in the record-breaking sci-fi film “Avatar,” the successful “Fast & Furious” franchise, the 2012 hit “Resident Evil: Retribution” and as a tough LAPD cop in TV’s “Lost.”
Jeremy Sisto (@JeremySisto):Actor best known for playing Billy Chenowith on the series “Six Feet Under.” He also played Detective Cyrus Lupo on “Law & Order” and currently stars in the series “Suburgatory.”
Mark Steines(@MarkSteines):Emmy award-winning journalist and host of the Hallmark Channel’s new how-to show, “Home & Family.” He spent more than 17 years on “Entertainment Tonight,” establishing himself as a trusted and charismatic figure in entertainment news.
Wanda Sykes (@iamwandasykes): Emmy award-winning comedian, writer and actress who ranks among Entertainment Weekly’s 25 Funniest People in America. She has hosted her own late night talk show, “The Wanda Sykes Show” and has appeared on TV shows including, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and films such as “Evan Almighty.”
Michael Trucco(@MichaelTrucco): Actor best known for playing Samuel Anders on SyFy’s acclaimed series “Battlestar Galactica” and Justin Patrick on the USA Network series “Fairly Legal.” Other credits include appearances on “Revenge,” “How I Met Your Mother” and “One Tree Hill.”
Rutledge Wood (@RutledgeWood): Auto racing analyst on Fox Sports/SPEED and co-host of “Top Gear USA.”
I have known this bit of information for almost a year now when I asked Toyota Motorsports Manager Les Unger about this at the post-race press conference during last year’s Pro Celebrity Race. However, today at the Chicago Auto Show Toyota made the official announcement that the FR-S will in fact replace the tC as the Pro Celebrity racecar this year. At first glance it may look like a stock FR-S with some graphics and wheels but there is more than meets the eye here. No, I don’t mean its going to turn into a giant robot. I mean that the race engineers ripped out the interior, added a roll cage, fire system, window nets, a TRD suspension, TRD Air Box, and TRD custom exhaust system.
The air box and exhaust system increase the power output from 200 to 210. That may not seem like a lot but for a bunch of celebrities, some of which will have never even driven a manual transmission car prior to their race training, that is more than a decent amount of power!
If you want to see the new FR-S celebrity race car come together then scroll down for the official build video hosted by Scion Racing driver Ken Gushi.
CHICAGO, Feb. 7, 2013 – Toyota Motorsports and Scion announced today that the Scion FR-S sports coupe will be the official vehicle of the 2013 Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race. This first Pro/Celebrity race-ready vehicle is making its debut here at the Chicago Auto Show.
The Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race will take place April 20 and mark the 37th anniversary of the charity event held annually as part of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend. It also marks the first time in 27years that a rear-wheel drive sports car will serve as the designated race car.
“The transformation of the FR-S into a race vehicle is a dream come true for many die-hard FR-S fans, and we wanted to share the journey with consumers at the Chicago Auto Show,” said Doug Murtha, Scion vice president. “Scion vehicles have been driven in the Pro/Celebrity race vehicle since 2005, and we can’t wait to see the rear-wheel drive FR-S race around the historic street course.”
The race-ready, identically-prepared FR-S cars will produce 210 horsepower, equipped with performance enhancements that include a range of Toyota Racing Development (TRD) products such as: stainless-steel exhaust, coil-over shocks and springs, big brake kit featuring Hawk Performance brake pads, performance air intake and 18 inch wheels. Other custom equipment includes a Centerforce single disc racing clutch, front MacPherson struts and a rear double wishbone suspension.
A build video shows the transformation of the FR-S into a race vehicle and highlights the painstaking process and level of detail that goes into each of the 25 race vehicles created for the event.
“The newly designed Scion FR-S sports coupes are being prepared to debut in time for the 37th anniversary of one of America’s most entertaining motorsports events,” said Les Unger, Toyota national motorsports manager. “Our participants should find it easy to celebrate this year’s race theme – Revved Up to Race – sitting behind the wheel of a race-ready Scion FR-S. The drivers will compete for a chance to earn yearlong bragging rights and acknowledge charitable donations made on their behalf.“
The Toyota Pro/Celebrity race has evolved into one of the longest-running corporate-sponsored events of its kind, pitting celebrities from music, sports and film against professional race drivers. The event benefits “Racing for Kids,” a nonprofit, national fundraising program that supports children’s hospitals throughout the United States.
Since 1977, Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race participants have included many Hollywood elites such as Keanu Reeves, Ashley Judd, Adrien Brody, Cameron Diaz, George Lucas, Queen Latifah and Jay Leno. Outside the red carpet, participants include former astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, NFL star John Elway, NBA All-Star Karl Malone, X Games Champion Tony Hawk, Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton and twelve-time Olympic medalist Dara Torres.
Toyota has donated more than $2 million to the Racing for Kids organization since 1991 on behalf of the Pro/Celebrity race and its participants. In addition to Toyota’s annual contributions, a $15,000 donation will be made in conjunction with the 16th annual “People Pole Award.” Sponsored by People magazine, the award honors the pole-position winner of the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race qualifying session on April 19.
2013 Toyota Pro / Celebrity Scion FR-S Specifications ENGINE
Type 4-cylinder, boxer type, 16-valve DOHC with Variable Valve Timing Control
Displacement 2.0L (121.9 Cu. In.)
Power 210 hp @ 7000 rpm
Induction Fuel Injection D-4S (Direct and Port Injection System) TRD Performance Air Intake
Bore X Stroke 86.0 mm X 86.0mm
Compression Ratio 12.5:1
Fuel F&L racing fuel 100 octane unleaded
Exhaust TRD stainless-steel exhaust
Motor Oil Redline 0W20 synthetic
Transmission 6-speed manual with Redline MTL synthetic transmission fluid
Differential Limited-slip differential
Clutch Centerforce single-disc racing clutch
Body Scion FR-S
Graphics Vinyl graphics by Hukill Paint and Graphics
Type 4-wheel independent
Front MacPherson strut with TRD custom coil-over shocks and springs
Rear Double-wishbone with TRD custom coil-over shocks and springs
WHEELS AND TIRES
Wheels TRD 18 X 7.5 in.
Tires Bridgestone Potenza RE11, 225/40/18
Brakes 4-wheel disc with ABS and TRD big brake kit. Hawk Performance brake pads
Safety Full roll cage, Onboard fire system, Window net, 5-point seatbelts
Race Weight 2775 lb.
Wheelbase 101.2 in.
Overall Length 166.7 in.
Overall Width 69.9 in.
Overall Height 48.7 in.
Ground Clearance 3.0 in.
Track Width Front — 59.8 in., Rear — 60.6 in.
Fuel Capacity 13.2 gal.
Today the big news about the FR-S is that there will probably be a convertible version on the way. That is cool and all but I am sure the die-hard fans of the Scion FR-S will be pleased to know that in April next year they will get to see a pack of their new favorite RWD car battling on the streets of Long Beach. During the post-race conference at this year’s Toyota Pro-Celebrity Race (in which Adam Corolla was the winner) I personally spoke with the national director of Toyota motorsports Les Unger about the chances of the Scion FR-S replacing the aging tC for the celebrity race. With out “officially” confirming it Mr. Unger said that since the FR-S is a more performance driven car than the tC and it will have been on sale for several months by the time next year’s Grand Prix comes around it is “very likely” that the FR-S will in fact replace the tC as next year’s Pro Celebrity race car.
The real question here is how well will inexperienced celebrites cope with the more demanding handling characteristics of a proper rear-wheel drive race car? I guess we will find out next year!
It took some time and a lot of deleting (I am not the best photographer!) but I have finally processed, sized, and marked all of my photos from the 2012 Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach! Rather than have a bunch of different galleries I just took the best pictures from each part of the weekend I experienced and put them all together into one big album on the official MotorworldHype.com Facebook page. There are a few appitizers below but the real feast is in the GALLERY so go check it out!
Over the weekend the Indy Car Series stopped in my home town of Long Beach, California for the 38th annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. This was my first chance seeing the new cars, engines, and drivers up close and it was awesome! More on that in a later post though. This post is to give you the results of the race in case you missed out and for some reason can’t watch a rebroadcast.
First a little background. The weekend started off with controversy as Chevrolet decided to pull their engines from Chevy-backed teams and replace them with new units. Per Indy Car rules changing an engine before its “desginated threshold” will cost a team 10 grid spots. Since most of the top tier teams are powered by Chevrolet engines it meant that the likes of Team Penske and Andretti Autosport had to start in the middle or back of the field. This left the door wide-open for teams powered by Honda or Lotus engines.
Despite Will Power getting the pole it was Dario Franchitti and rookie Joseph Newgarden who started in the front row (both drivers with Honda engines). However due to some expert strategy and pit stops Will Power was able to fight his way to the front on a two stop strategy. In the end Will had his hands full with a very agressive Simon Pagenaud who nearly took the win from Power in the last 5 laps. James “Hinchtown” Hinchcliffe was granted a third place spot due to his teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay being religated to 7th due to a penalty.
For highlights of the race check out the video below. Also stay tuned for a full event gallery from the entire weekend!
Today the Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach released the list of participants in this year’s Toyota Pro Celebrity Race and among the combatants is Top Gear USA host Rutledge Wood. You heard right, good ol’ Rut will take part in what some people refer to as “celebrity pinball” as television, movie, and music stars try to keep their Scion tCs (and themselves) in one piece as they run 10 laps around the grand prix street circuit. Rutledge will have to fend off other contenders such as Adrain Brody, reality star Brody Jenner, and even a few pro drivers like Fredric Aasbo from Formula Drift and USAC Champion Bryan Clauson. Will some coaching from the Stig help Rutledge take down all comers and earn a first place finish for Top Gear USA? We will have to wait until race day April 14th. I will be track side capturing the action!
The third and final day of the Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach is my personal favorite day because this is the day of “the big race” where the Indy Cars finally go at it full speed on the streets of downtown LB. Another reason why its a favorite of mine is because since the ALMS race is done by Saturday, they clear out their paddock by Saturday night and in its place there is a corral of exotic supercars! It’s like a Cars & Coffee event on a Sunday without having to wake up at the crack of dawn! There were some amazing cars on display in the corral. In fact, some cars were so good that they will be getting their own posts! Sunday is usually the day where I turn off reporter mode and get into fan mode to watch the race, which was pretty crazy by the way! If you didn’t make it out this year I highly, highly reccomend getting tickets and coming to the Grand Prix in 2012. Even if you aren’t local, if you are a racing fan I promise you it will be worth the trip! Below are a few pics from the car corral. If you want to see the rest just head over to our Facebook gallery.
I waited all year and the time finally came for open wheel racing to come back to town in the form of the IZOD Indy Car Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Last Sunday was race day and I was parked in my usual spot in grandstand 29 along the main straight of Shoreline Drive and waited for the cars to come blasting by me at 180mph into turn 1. With 2 races in the season already completed (St Petersberg and Alabama) victories were split between the Target Chip Ganassi team and Penske Team with one each so fans were playing the “Ganassi or Penske” game coming into this weekend. With Will Power scoring pole position it was looking like the round would go to Penske but then we were reminded that Long Beach is a street course and street courses almost always equal chaos.
The first bit of anarchy started when Helio Castroneves spun Justin Wilson by making contact with him in the hairpin coming on to Shoreline Drive. That mishap brought out a full course yellow which bunched up the field and destroyed any gap that Will Power had built up on the rest of the field. A double file restart was attempted once Justin was clear but the drivers caught stage fright and for the most part stayed in a single file line when the race went green again. Ryan Hunter-Reay managed to snag the lead from Will Power but just when Ryan was starting to get used to being out front another incident with EJ Viso and Danica Patrick brought out another full course yellow which again bunched the field back up and killed any gap that the front runners put on the pack.
This time race control made sure the Indy Cars really did make a double file restart when the track went green again. The result of which was everything going wrong! Helio Castroneves struck again but this time he got into his own teammate Will Power causing both to spin around which totally screwed up Team Penske’s day. Then inexplicably Takuma Sato got a flat and ran into the tires just past the convention center, and a few other rookies mysteriously spun out in the same area just after Sato came to a stop. It was all absolute madness. With all the carnage another full course yellow came out and once things were cleaned up they went for the double file restart once again. This time things went more cleanly, yet things still kicked off with a surprize as Alex Tagliani, Dario Franchitti, and Mike Conway all put pressure on front runners Ryan Briscoe and Ryan Hunter-Reay on the start. First Tagliani seemed to get the jump on the two Ryans but out of no where Mike Conway makes a move on Dario Franchitti then weaves past Tagliani just as Ryan Hunter-Reay’s car decides to take a dump. Then Conway puts a brilliant move on Briscoe to take the lead in the last 6 laps or so and holds on to take his first ever win in the Indy Car Series! It looks like the rest of the season could turn into a three way battle between Ganassi Racing, Team Penske, and Andretti Autosport!
Scroll down for a few highlights from the race and stay tuned for more Grand Prix posts coming up!
In Europe it is Ferrari, Renault, BMW and Red Bull who get all the credit for investing in the development of young drivers but here in America it is Mazda that is taking on the task of bringing young American drivers up through the ranks of amateur racing and into the pros with their Mazdaspeed Ladder program. This weekend the program’s success was proven when Conor Daly (son of former F1 driver Derek Daly) took his first Firestone Indy Lights series victory on the streets of Long Beach in the #77 Mazda “Road To Indy” car some 30 years or so after his father raced on the same course in an F1 car. While Conor didn’t qualify on the pole he was able to pull away with the win by keeping a cool head and consistently putting pressure on any car that was in his sights. After a few of the front runners had mishaps due to car troubles or a lapse of focus Conor made his way to the front and finished in first place under yellow. Congrats to Mazda and Conor for getting their first of many victories in the Indy Lights Series. Scroll down for a few video highlights of the race.