Former champ to compete in 10-lap street race in Long Beach, Calif.
Velasquez is part of the field for the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, which will take place Saturday in Long Beach, Calif. The charity race is a 10-lap event on a nearly 2-mile street course in downtown Long Beach. The event annually attracts celebrities from the world of sports, entertainment and media. Last year’s race was won by actor William Fichtner (“Prison Break,” “Entourage”), who took the pole position after original pole winner Stephen Moyer (“True Blood”) decided to not compete in the race after rolling his car in qualifying.
This is the 36th year of the event. Drivers race “identically prepared, race-ready Toyota Scion tCs” cars, according to a release. The race benefits children in need – Toyota donates $5,000 to Racing for Kids on behalf of each participant and another $5,000 to the winning racer’s charity of choice. Toyota has donated more than $2 million to the Racing for Kids organization since 1991, the release said.
Velasquez will be six weeks away from his return to the Octagon, a scheduled co-main event bout against fellow former champion Frank Mir at UFC 146 in Las Vegas. The winner of that fight has been promised the next heavyweight title shot, though champion Junior dos Santos‘ opponent, Alistair Overeem, may be unable to fight after a positive test for elevated testosterone levels. But UFC president Dana White said last week the Mir-Velasquez fight will still happen, effectively ending speculation that one of them would be elevated to a title shot against dos Santos on May 26.
Velasquez won the UFC heavyweight belt against Brock Lesnar in October 2010, then lost it in his first defense against dos Santos in November. Some of the celebrities Velasquez will be competing against in the race include Jillian Barberie Reynolds (Fox NFL Sunday), Adrien Brody (Oscar-winning actor for “The Pianist”), Adam Carolla, Kim Coates (“Sons of Anarchy”) and Brody Jenner (“The Hills”).
“It’s been astonishing to see how many entertainers and sports personalities have been transformed by the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race – not just by the event itself, but by the fact that it benefits chronically ill children,” said Les Unger, national motorsports manager for Toyota. “I have yet to meet a participant who hasn’t been appreciative and sincerely affected by the children’s hospital visit that we organize ahead of race day. It’s one of the reasons that this race remains such an immense draw for celebrities and athletes – and for the fans who get to see their favorite stars really having a ball. Honestly, I don’t know who has more fun – the drivers or the spectators.”