LONG BEACH, Calif. — Actor William Fichtner took advantage to some good luck and parlayed it into a victory at the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race Saturday.
Fichtner, making his second start in the event, inherited the pole when Steven Moyer, star of the HBO series “True Blood,” decided to pull out of the race after a crash at the end of qualifying. In spite of winning the pole before the crash, on the advice of the producers of the show, Moyer regretfully withdrew.
Fichtner fought off the challenge of actor Michael Trucco, who ran strongly despite starting in the middle of the pack. Fichtner, a versatile character actor who appeared in such movies as Black Hawk Down” and “The Perfect Storm,” ran out front for the entire ten laps around the 1.968-mile Grand Prix course through the streets of Long Beach. Fichtner was ecstatic after the race:
“I didn’t even look in my mirror,” said Fichtner, “I just wanted to drive my car. I know there were many drivers in the pack that could have just as easily come out on top. This is a great group of people, and I’m proud of every one of them today.”
In second place overall, and the winner of the Pro division, was Drifting champion Ken Gushi. Gushi had the fastest time in qualifying, but the Pro drivers are started thirty seconds behind the celebrities.
Third was Trucco, with past celebrity winner (now running with the pros) Frankie Muniz coming home fourth.
As always, the big winner was the charity Racing for Kids. Toyota donates $5,000 in the name of each participant. To date, Toyota has donated nearly two millions dollars to the charity over the years.