Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race in Long Beach, CA 2003
Press and Practice Day, April 1, 2003
Tuesday, April 1, 2003, was not only for members of the press. It marked the practice day of the 27th Annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race. DOOL’s Peter Reckell (Bo) is participating this year and I headed to Long Beach, CA to be on hand as Reckell experienced his first practice run on the official race track.
This is our third year covering soap stars in the Pro/Celebrity Race. In 2002, Jacob Young (then Lucky, GH) whipped around the hair-pin turns of the speedway. Mark Consuelos (then Mateo, AMC) tried his hand at the race in 2001 (and actually placed rather well in the finish!) I got to ride with pro driver Scott Pruett in 2001, when he demonstrated the speed and agility of the Toyota Celica GT-S, the car of choice for Pro/Celebrity Race. I gotta tell you. These babies fly on that speedway. Yipes! My fingers were digging into the dashboard with each harrowing turn. We were only doing a mere 110 miles an hour! Didn’t have time to be chauffeured by a pro this year, but it’s definitely on my list to do again in the future. What an adrenaline rush!
Other soap stars who have competed in this race in the past include Josh Taylor (Roman, DOOL) in 1981, Kate Linder (Esther, Y&R) in 1996, Eric Braeden (Victor, Y&R) in 1997 and 1998, Joshua Morrow (Nicholas, Y&R) in 1998 and 2000, and Lauralee Bell (Christine, Y&R) in 1999.
Now, in 2003, it’s all about Peter Reckell and his trying his hand at racing with the pros.
First off, Reckell is a doll and a half! In person he is drop dead gorgeous -- in that ruggedly handsome kind of way. He is mild mannered, with a sweet disposition and a friendly smile that always beams even if behind a three-day whisker growth! “It’s part of Bo Brady’s look,” I overheard Reckell say to another reporter when asked if his scruffy appearance was permitted on Days of our Lives.
As Salem’s Bo Brady often takes to his motorcycle, Reckell headed to his race car and prepared to drive the first laps. It takes a fair amount of time to get strapped in, adjust the seat, apply the helmet, secure the chin strap, and set the mesh curtain that covers the drivers door window -- all measures of safety in case of any mishap.
There were two rows of cars lined up one behind another awaiting the signal to head out to the track. Reckell was driving the #1 car, a white Celica GT-S. Suddenly, as if on call, the loud booming vroom of the engines overpowered the overcast morning. One by one the racers drove out to the track. Var var swish vroom as they rounded every corner. You couldn’t help but smell the burning rubber. Making a cell phone call and hearing the person on the other end was next to impossible -- that’s how loud these engines roar.
The days’ activities were scheduled to the minute. A document called the “minute-by-minute” noted everything that was to occur and who was responsible for making it happen beginning at 6 AM. The Long Beach Grand Prix is itself a masterful feat of coordination, as the race track is actually comprised of city streets that are closed off during racing. Once a practice session ended, streets were reopened. Long Beach fire department and police personnel work extremely closely with race promoters to assure everyone’s safety.
As the cars returned after the first session, you could almost see the adrenaline gushing out of each and every one of them. Reckell and a number of the others, got out of the cars and headed straight for the port-o-sans. Josh Brolin (Mr. Sterling) literally ran to relieve himself. Was it rough out there?
It was for U.S astronaut Buzz Aldren who had a mishap. Did he hit a wall? “The wall hit me,” he joked later in the day. Reckell admitted to getting “turned around” a few times out there. Make no mistake about it. This is high speed racing. It’s precise and it’s dangerous.
That’s why the celebrities train at Fast Lane Racing School in Lancaster, CA prior to the race. But as Reckell shares in his interview about the race, there’s nothing like the “green” track.
On a lighter note, Josh Brolin gave an interview to the Playboy Channel. He told their reporter, Kim, that fellow racer, Adam Carolla (The Man Show, Crank Yankers), wore regular underwear and he was in trouble as a result. It appears, Brolin continued, that the racing uniforms, (a tight-fitting jumpsuit) made underwear ride up the butt as you were driving. It was for this reason that he wore a g-string. With nothing but “dental floss” up his butt, he didn’t have to worry about being uncomfortable. Was Josh joshing?
Meeting a MoonWalker
As a professional in the entertainment industry for many years, I have worked with a number of major celebrities. Harrison Ford, for example. All of Daytime’s top talent. Never once asked for an autograph for myself. It’s just not done. But -- there was one member of the Pro Celebrity Race Team whose autograph I had to have. Buzz Aldren. Second man to walk on the moon. He is not a celebrity. He is a national treasure. A true American hero. How could I not get his autograph? I mean, come on. The MOON! So, I caved and asked. He couldn’t have been more charming and gracious. However, just for the record. He dropped his first name “Edwin.” He is legally “Buzz” Aldren now.
The day continued with more practice rounds and members of the media getting their “free ride” in the Solaras Pace car -- the same ride I got in 2001 thanks to Scott Pruett. A buffet lunch was served, and the drivers were assigned their cars for the race. Reckell will be driving car #14. After the team pictures were taken, I got back in my own car and headed home to Soapdom, Inc.
- Peter Reckell and Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race 2003 Official Press Release
- Peter Reckell and Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race 2003 Behind the Scenes of Press/Practice Day
- Peter Reckell Interview on Pro/Celeb Race 2003
- Peter Reckell Qualifies for First Position in Race and Wins "People Pole Award"
- Peter Reckell WINS the Race!
- Mark Consuelos (ex Mateo, AMC) Toyota Race Practice Day 2001
- Mark Consuelos (ex Mateo, AMC) Toyota Race 2001
- Jacob Young (ex Lucky, GH) Toyota Race Practice Day 2002
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