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Wanda Sykes races with 'knuckleheads' in Toyota Grand Prix

Former celebrities meet the public eye once again -- this time, as drivers in a special celebrity race in Long Beach.

By James_Tate Apr 21, 2013 11:07AM

Each year during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Toyota hosts a celebrity race alongside the real racing. Toyota has been doing it for 37 years, and if we’re honest, it’s a hoot to watch – even if you have no idea who any of the has-beens -- sorry, celebrities -- actually are.

 

It’s fun because none of the “stars, musicians, athletes and inspirational figures” know how to drive a race car on the track, despite having had training and practice leading up to the event.


While the real race was on Sunday, Sykes and others went through many improper driving techniques on Saturday as they traded paint through 10 laps of the 1.97-mile road course – and the best part is that they were chased down by semi-pro drivers, who were let loose after the celebs peeled off.


This year, the celebrity pack raced in lightly-tuned Scion FR-S coupes. Unlike the Toyota Celica race cars that preceded them, the FR-S is rear-wheel-drive, making 210 horsepower and featuring suspension and braking tweaks by TRD, Toyota's racing arm.

 

Rutledge Wood, from the History Channel TV series "Top Gear USA," won the event.


On TV and web reruns, don't expect to see your favorite stars flying around the track at breakneck speeds. Instead, look at it with a sense of humor, like you would when you watch "Celebrity Rehab." We’ll admit, we don’t even recognize the majority of the racers ourselves – except maybe for Wanda Sykes, who jokingly told the Belmont Shore Patch "I didn't think that they were actually going to let a bunch of knuckleheads just out there and race by ourselves. I don't know these people... I don't even know if they have driver's licenses.”


You don’t know how right you are, Wanda.

 

Toyota does the celebrity race for a good cause. This year, the event will raise more than $100,000 for “Racing for Kids,” a national organization that benefits children’s hospitals in Southern California, and create $20,000 for other charities.

 

If you’re in the area and you’ve never been to the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, we can’t recommend it highly enough. The weather is usually beautiful, the event is expertly run and there is an abundance of great viewing points that make walking the track a blast. Set your DVRs if you're not already there.


[Sources: Toyotaracing.com; Belmont Shore Patch; Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach; Photo: Toyotaracing.com]

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