LONG BEACH, Calif., April 9, 2005 (PRIMEZONE) -- In a hotly contested race that wasn't decided until the last turn of the last lap, Malcolm in the Middle star Frankie Muniz proved victorious at the 29th annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race. Champion Rally and Formula Drift Team Racer Rhys Millen finished first among all drivers and won in the Pro category.
"This year's race was exciting for the full 10 laps," said Les Unger, national motorsports manager with Toyota Motor Sales. "There were several lead changes and a finish that was a surprise to everyone. The celebrities put on quite a show and demonstrated a fantastic competitive spirit. That's what the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race is all about."
General Hospital's Ingo Rademacher, a favorite named by many of the celebrities as "the man to beat," found himself in trouble early, hitting the wall in the first turn. He quickly got back into the race, but the lead then shifted to Mark Steines, anchor for Entertainment Tonight. Steines held on to it for one lap but then he got into trouble when he spun out and surrendered the lead to Olympic gold medal swimmer Aaron Peirsol. Peirsol fought to hang onto the lead as Champion Rally and Formula Drift Team Racer Rhys Millen weaved through the celebrity field to take the second position in lap four. By lap five Millen had taken the lead and Peirsol settled into second place. In the meantime, Rademacher came from the back of the pack, moving into third place. With the professional Millen firmly in the lead, Peirsol and Rademacher battled for first place in the celebrity category. It remained that way until the last lap when Peirsol and Rademacher tangled, opening the door for Frankie Muniz to claim first place.
"Racing is what I have wanted to do my whole life," said Muniz. "This is a dream come true for me. It was a great race."
In the professional category, Millen triumphed over 2004 Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race champion Christopher McDonald, Three-time Baja 1000 Champion racer Ryan Arciero and Sport Compact Pro Drag racer Matt Scranton.
The final standings for the field are: Overall Winner: 1. Rhys Millen - 18:30.451 Celebrity Category: 1. Frankie Muniz - 18:44.117 2. Ingo Rademacher - 18:50.411 3. Aaron Peirsol - 18:54.264 4. Mark Steines - 18:57.944 5. Misty May - 19:00.791 6. Mike Sullivan - 19:14.139 7. Meat Loaf - 19:21.117 8. Amanda Beard - 19:26.035 9. Karl Malone - 19:27.185 10. Justin Berfield - -1 lap (Did Not Finish) 11. Patrick Dempsey - -1 lap (DNF) 12. Paige Hemmis - -1 lap (DNF) Pro Category: 1. Rhys Millen - 18:30.451 2. Ryan Arciero - 18:42.996 3. Matt Scranton - 18:57.189 4. Christopher McDonald - 19:20.314
During the last 14 years, the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race has raised close to $1.2 million for "Racing for Kids," a national fund-raising program that benefits children's hospitals in Long Beach and Orange County. The 10-lap race will be broadcast in its entirety on Speed Channel on May 1 at 12:30 p.m., EST.
Greg Young (949) 842-8454 Kara Knutson (650) 922-2932