Photo by Keeley Smith.
The final Pro/Celebrity race at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach granted former Fresh Prince of Bel Air stud Alfonso Ribeiro the grand prize this year—his fourth win in five tries as a contestant in the annual race.
Rounding the corner after his donut-filled victory lap and walking onto the awards podium, he even gave the people what they wanted: The Carlton.
Ribeiro said inverting the field, after fellow racer Jimmy Vasser won the pole in yesterday’s qualifying round, helped him out.
“[It] obviously created a better position for me,” said Ribeiro. “But that’s what racing is—you take advantage of the opportunities you’ve been given, and I was really fortunate to get myself up front, really.”
He pointed to Vasser and Frankie Muniz’s faster qualifying times shortly before celebrating the win with his signature dance move.
For the last race, the event was not without highs and lows. One such moment arrived in a crash that occurred on the track mid-race, in which Brett Davern hit a tire barrier and was hit by the only rookie in the field, Toyota executive Bob Carter. The beloved Boondock Saints actor Sean Patrick Flanery came around a corner, hitting Carter’s car, before smoke began to billow from within his vehicle.
He walked away apparently unharmed, to the relief of Flanery’s vast legion of Twitter fans.
Later, some race participants spoke to the Grand Prix crowd from the Terrace balcony, extending their gratitude for the charity race and the role the race has played in their lives.
“Is this not the greatest place?” said Ribeiro of Long Beach, which he called a “third home," after New York and Hollywood. He remembers his first few races in the early 90s, crediting Toyota with his “falling in love with racing”—while contributing to Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital’s charity.
Today’s race preceded the first Speed Energy Stadium Super Trucks Race and further qualifying rounds for tomorrow’s IndyCar race, in addition to the BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach and tonight’s Rock-N-Roar Concert, starring Cheap Trick. The Super Drift Finals will round out the day’s events.
Notable finishers for the Toyota Grand Prix Pro/Celebrity Race are as follows:
- Alfonso Ribeiro
- Al Unser Jr.
- Rod Millen
- Adam Carolla
- Mike Skinner
- Frankie Munix (7th)
- Jimmy Vasser (Pole Winner)
- Ricky Schroder (9th)
- Unser Jr. (10th)
- Dara Torres (14th)
For a full schedule for the weekend and tickets, click here.
Gallery photos by Keeley Smith and Stephanie Rivera