Skinner Hits the Streets
Mike Skinner’s involvement in Saturday’s Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race is threefold.
1. The obvious. The race that features film, TV and sports celebrities competing against professional drivers is expected to raise more than $100,000 for Racing For Kids, a national organization that benefits children’s hospitals in southern California. “The race is almost immaterial compared to the cause,” Skinner said. “The cause is much bigger than the race.”
2. The circuit. Skinner, a part-time Sprint Cup driver with Red Bull Racing Team and Craftsman Truck regular, loves to race on road — or in this case, street — courses. For 10 laps, identically prepared Scion tCs will snake through the 1.97-mile circuit on the streets of downtown Long Beach, Calif.
“I really miss the road courses. That’s what kind of got me into racing to start with, driving those windy roads and just enjoying going fast,” Skinner said. “If I had a wish for the truck series, it’d be that we go back and do some road-course racing.”
Skinner’s last road race in NASCAR? The 2002 Cup race at Watkins Glen.
3. The bragging rights. Skinner is the defending Pro/Celebrity champion. “I don’t know how well we’ll do this year,” he said, “but it’d be neat to win it two years in a row.”
Pro/Celebrity qualifying is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. ET Friday, with the race set for 2:40 p.m. ET Saturday.
Headlining the celebrity entries is “Dancing with the Stars” winner Drew Lachey, ESPN’s Jamie Little, NFL great Eric Dickerson and William Fichtner from “Prison Break.” The Pro class includes NHRA drivers Whit Bazemore and Tony Pedregon and Olympic gold medal cyclist Marty Nothstein.