LONG BEACH, CA – April 10, 2017 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach was the place to be Sunday as the stars and cars of the Verizon IndyCar Series mixed it up with the stars of Hollywood and the sports world at the 43rd running of the famed street race.
The high-profile guest list included University of Southern California head football coach Clay Helton, who served as grand marshal and gave the famous “Drivers, start your engines” command, and two-time Super Bowl champion Julian Edelman (New England Patriots), who rode in the Honda Fastest Seat in Sports with racing legend Mario Andretti.
“Holy smokes, that was awesome!” Edelman said after stepping out of the car. “It was fun, I had a blast. I want to go start racing now. You definitely feel those (G-forces) and you feel the acceleration of that thing. You see how close they get to the walls. A couple times they get about 5 or 6 inches away from (the wall) and the skill that they have to have to be able to do that is unreal. Your appreciation for this goes to a whole new level. I’m speechless.”
Celebrity seekers who were looking in INDYCAR drivers’ pits and garages before and during the race got what they were looking for.
Actress and model Chloe Grace Moretz, known for “Carrie” and “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising,” was spotted with Conor Daly’s AJ Foyt Racing team. Tory Belleci of “MythBusters” and “White Rabbit Project,” DJ MAKJ, YouTube personality iJustine, Walk the Moon bassist Kevin Ray and television producer/writer Andrea Feczko also visited the No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet driver’s pit.
Like Edelman, Moretz couldn’t believe the thrill of taking a ride with Mario Andretti.
“It was exhilarating,” she said. “It was the closest I can get to going skydiving again, but without having to fall from an airplane. I grew up with four older brothers. We used to go to the car shows together, we would watch all the car auctions. I grew up always on ATVs and go karts and all that stuff. For me, I kind of like to be a little bit of a daredevil, so speed has been on my side.”
Comedian Jeff Ross and Bridget Marquardt, known as one of Hugh Hefner’s girlfriends on “The Girls Next Door,” were among Marco Andretti’s fans. Marquardt brought her fiancé, Nick Carpenter. “Vampire Diaries” actress Nina Dobrev was also spotted around Andretti’s No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda.
James Hinchcliffe – who was the winner of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach – was joined before the race by celebrity friends he made during his runner-up stint last year on Season 23 of “Dancing with the Stars.” Terra Jole, known for “Little Woman: LA,” took a morning ride with Mario Andretti in the two-seat Indy car and later joined Hinchcliffe in victory circle after the race concluded.
Pierson Fode, star of “The Bold and the Beautiful,” and singer/songwriter Leona Lewis also attended the race as guests of Hinchcliffe. Mickey Mouse, star of Disney’s “Mickey and the Roadster Racers” waved the green flag to start the race.
Earlier in the weekend, “Dancing with the Stars” professional Sharna Burgess visited with Hinchcliffe, her dance partner for the ABC hit show. Loki the Wolfdog, an Instagram star and social media influencer, sponsored the car of Spencer Pigot and spent time with the team and driver in their garage on Thursday. NFL analyst Rich Eisen took a two-seater ride with Mario Andretti on Friday.
Also seen in the pits and paddock throughout the weekend were NASCAR legend Bobby Allison and NHRA legend Don Prudhomme.
Guests of Marco Andretti, driver of the No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda for Andretti Autosport:
- Nina Dobrev, “Vampire Diaries”
- Comedian Jeff Ross
- Bridget Marquardt, “The Girls Next Door”
Guests of Conor Daly, driver of the No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet:
- Chloe Grace Moretz, “Carrie”; “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising”
- Tory Belleci, “Mythbusters”; “White Rabbit Project”
- DJ MAKJ
- YouTube personality iJustine
- Kevin Ray, bassist for band Walk the Moon
- Television presenter/producer/writer Andrea Feczko
- Nicole Arbour, social media influencer
- Sasha Lane, “American Honey”
Guests of James Hinchcliffe, driver of the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda:
- Terra Jole, “Little Women: LA”; “Dancing with the Stars” (Season 23)
- Pierson Fodé, “The Bold and the Beautiful”
- Singer/songwriter Leona Lewis
Guest of Alexander Rossi, driver of the No. 98 NAPA Auto Parts Honda for Andretti Autosport:
- Ron Capps, 2016 NHRA Funny Car Champion and driver for Don Schumacher Racing
- Sommer Rae, Instagram social media influencer
A gallery with high resolution photos and a video b-roll package of the celebrities at the event is available at http://media.indycar.com.