Actor William Fichtner Wins Toyota Celebrity Race

Actor William Fichtner prevailed as the overall winner in a highly competitive race of America’s favorite celebrities from film, television, music and sports in the 2011 Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race.

Japanese drift racer Ken Gushi finished close behind Fichtner to come in second overall and first in the Pro category, followed closely by actor Michael Trucco.

Fichtner, a versatile character actor who has appeared in such big-screen blockbusters as “Black Hawk Down” and “The Perfect Storm,” led the pack as an excited crowd cheered him on throughout the race.

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“This was a thrilling race from start to finish,” said Les Unger, national motorsports manager with Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A.

From the first laps, Fichtner fought off Trucco, whose high position was a surprise to many, since Trucco had landed in the middle of the pack as a result of the previous day’s qualifying session.

Actor–turned–pro driver Frankie Muniz was a contender as well, as he made his way up through the pack. Trucco placed third overall, just two seconds in front of the fourth-place Muniz.

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For much of the race, the main battle was between Fichtner and Gushi, as they battled it out for the top spot. In the end it was Fichtner who crossed the finish line in his race-ready Toyota Scion tC, just three seconds ahead of Gushi.

Fichtner, though modest, was exhilarated after the race. “I didn’t even look in the rearview mirror,” said the champ. “I just wanted to drive my car. I know there were many drivers in the pack who could’ve just as easily come out on top. This is a great group of people, and I’m proud of every one of them today.”

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Toyota will donate $5,000 to Racing for Kids in the name of each celebrity racer and an additional $5,000 to the winning racer’s charity of choice.

The organization for which Fichtner raced is the Kyle Busch Foundation, which is dedicated to providing essential tools for less fortunate children throughout the country.

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Racing for Kids is a U.S. national nonprofit program benefiting children’s hospitals in Long Beach and Orange County, Calif. Toyota has donated $1.9 million on behalf of the race and its participants to various children’s hospitals since 1991.

The Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race is scheduled to be broadcast on the Speed Channel on Sunday, May 1, at 3 p.m. EDT and will be rebroadcast after that. (See local listings or for times.)

It was announced Saturday, April 16.

Photo courtesy: Toyota

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Rakesh Raman