Zooom Vroom Vroom. That's all I can say. What a day at the races. Mark Consuelos (Mateo, AMC) is competing in the 2001 Pro/Celebrity Grand Prix, raced on the ocean-front city streets of Long Beach, CA. In spending the day with the stars as they tested the track for the very first time with the race a mere ten days away, you couldn't help but smell the burning rubber and feel the excitement as they vroomed down the straightaway. Decked in protective headgear, I got to race two laps with Pro driver, Scott Pruett, and let me tell you, those Solara Pace Cars go fast! "Who needs Space Mountain?" I quipped and Pruett laughed as I gripped my seat and braced myself for each hairpin turn. According to Pruett, we were only doing a paultry 110 miles an hour! Is that all? LOL Now, on with our coverage of Mark Consuelos, AMC's very own Speedracer! Linda Marshall-Smith
And We're Off!
by Jessica Radloff
Poor Kelly Ripa (Hayley, All My Children, Live with Regis and Kelly.) She's a working mother holding down two jobs, a second child on the way and no husband in sight! And why? Because husband, Mark Consuelos (Mateo, All My Children) is one of 15 celebrity participants at the 25th Toyota Pro/Celebrity Grand Prix Race in Long Beach, California. As part of the event, Toyota will help raise more than $100,000 for 'Racing for Kids,' a non-profit program benefiting Southern California's childrens' hospitals.
In gearing up for the big race, to be held April 6-8, 2001 and then broadcast it its entirety on ESPN, Saturday, April 28th at 3 PM ET, Consuelos and his competitors have been undergoing a rigorous training regimen to master both the course and the vehicles.
Tuesday, March 27th was the first time the celebrity drivers had the chance to experience driving the track. The press was invited and we caught up with Consuelos, as well as a surprise guest, to get the lowdown on racing, his wife, and fulfilling a life long dream!
You would think that in order to compete Consuelos' racing experience would be extensive. Not necessarily so. Then, what's his secret? Along with the four-day mandatory training program in Lancaster, CA a few weeks earlier, Consuelos gained his expertise from --
"Playstation!" he bellowed. "And a couple of video games here and there, but that's about it," exclaimed the daytime star. But don't start worrying yet! Racing has been a life-long dream for Consuelos, and he's followed the sport all over the country. In fact, former AMC co-star Michael Lowry (ex-Jake) was on-hand as Consuelos' official videographer and supporter! Wife Kelly was back in New York taping her talk show, but if all goes as planned, she hopes to be at the race this coming weekend.
"Mark and I just love racing," revealed Lowry. "We've shared a real love for it ever since we've known each other -- starting with All My Children. We travel, go to Italy, Montreal and watch the races there." He laughed and continued, "Kelly is upset because Mark takes ME to Italy!"
Lowry was delighted that his friend and former co-star had gotten this amazing opportunity to compete in the race. "A lot of his castmates back east are very jealous," said Lowry. "Not to mention that it's just great to be in the inner circle here and talk with these real-life drivers who are just putzin around," continued Lowry. "Mark is living a dream."
But it's not all fun and games. According to Consuelos, "You think you can drive until you come out here, but it's not until you start working with these instructors, and [then you realize] I'm not good!"
Don't feel too bad for Consuelos though. Competing with the likes of 4-time Superbowl quarterback, Jim Kelly, Tai Bos Billy Blanks, and Olympic swimming gold-medalist, Dara Torres, allows for some eventful downtime! We caught Consuelos catching pass after pass as he played football with ex NFL star, Kelly, and like a proud papa, Lowry was there to capture it all on tape! "Its great!" said Lowry. "Mark has me documenting everything!"
When Consuelos does take to the tracks for the main event, it will be after lots of video has been recorded. With four rigorous days of training and three days of racing, Celebrity Source President Rita Tateel says that the celebrities are extremely prepared. In fact, to offset the celebrities from the pro-drivers, Consuelos and his peers will be given a 30-second advantage when the flag signals "Go!" Many of the major streets in Long Beach will also be blocked off to allow for ample racing room and fewer distractions.
After Consuelos returned from his first 30-minute practice run on the 11-turn, temporary street circuit, 1.97 mile track, he could only comment how great it felt to be behind the wheel. Like the Toyota Celica GT-S Liftback he'll be driving, he is definitely revved up and ready for the big race! Will he be remaining in LA until the event or returning to New York to tape scenes for AMC? "I'm flying home tonight," he said. "To my pregnant wife!"
If you plan on attending the Grand Prix, get there early! The three-day weekend generally draws over 225,000 spectators, making it the largest paid spectator special event in Southern California. For updated information about schedules, tickets and race-related events, visit www.longbeachgp.com Mark Consuelos (Mateo, All My Children) Car #17 Josh Brolin (Actor and 2000 Toyota Pro/Celeb. Winner), Car # 22 Related Features
William Shatner (Captain Kirk, Star Trek), Car #7
David Alan Grier (Star of DAG), Car #14
Erik Palladino (Dr. Dave Malucci, ER), Car #10
Christopher McDonald (Family Law), Car #1
Piper Perabo (Coyote Ugly), Car #3
Elisa Donovan (Sabrina, the Teenage Witch), Car #19
Jim Kelly (Former NFL quarterback, Buffalo Bills), Car #12
Billy Blanks (Tae-Bo Inventor), Car #2
Dara Torres (Olympic Swimming Gold Medalist), Car # 20
Mark Steines (Entertainment Tonight correspondent), Car #4
PROFESSIONAL RACE CAR DRIVER PARTICIPANTS
Robert Huffman (Four-time NASCAR Goodys Dash Champ), Car # 24
Scott Pruett (10-year CART veteran; ESPN Commentator) Car #23
Sarah Senske (Rising open-wheel racing star), Car #26
Mark Consuelos (Mateo, All My Children) Car #17
Josh Brolin (Actor and 2000 Toyota Pro/Celeb. Winner), Car # 22