Toyota Long Beach GP Celebrity Race Kick-Off a Wet Affair

26 March 1998

For only the second time in its 22 year history, the press day kick-off
blast for the Toyota Celebrity Grand Prix--companion event to CART's 
April 5 200 miler--was rained on.  It was not, however, rained out.  Instead
of having introductions of the eighteen celebs/jocks at trackside and
running practice laps, the entire 200 person media affair was moved into
a meeting room in the Long Beach Convention center.  And while the soap
stars and media types were not able to run flat out testing the 1.5
mile, eight turn street circuit, they were able to tour the course with
windshield wipers blazing and hitting 60 mph in the pit straightway.

The luncheon and driver intro portion of the program was as good as
similar ceremonies of old.  JIM BELUSHI said he'd only crashed twice
and hopes he makes it home.  Dragster CRISTEN POWELL told local Ch. 5
newsman Carlos Amezcua to "watch out, 'cause I don't even turn and
I'll beat you."  ERIC BRAEDEN of "The Young and Restless" TV
sitcom/soap said he'd pay anything to be invited back.  Academy award
presenter CAMERON DIAZ of "My Best Friend's Wedding" was ill today but
will be on the track come race day.  JIM MORET, National News Anchor
for CNN was looking forward to a good run, though he said he knew
absolutely nothing about sports--never even saw a football game.  Big
DERRICK THOMAS, Linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs; JOSHUA MORROW,
and ANDY LAUER, Caroline In The City were having a ball.

There may be a couple of sleepers in the ensemble: KUMI SATO, lady
journalist and JUNKO MIHARA, actress/racer are both from Japan, and
both have lots of racing experience.

The professional drivers on hand to take the media types around the
circuit were Robby Gordon, now with a full time ride in CART; Chris
Cord and Rocky Moran, both veteran road racers; and good old Rod
Millen, who later this year is determined to break the Pikes Peak
speed record.

Saturday, April 4, Celebrity race at the Toyota Long Beach GP . . . be
there, or be square.

Bill Maloney -- The Auto Channel

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