Disney Sensation David Henrie Named Grand Marshal for 2009 Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race

April 17, 2009

ER’s Gloria Reuben to Perform National Anthem at Fan-Favorite Race for Charity

LONG BEACH, Calif., April 17 /PRNewswire/ — David Henrie, the popular star of The Disney Channel’s highest rated show, “The Wizards of Waverly Place,” will lead a parade of luminaries from film, television and sports when he assumes the role of Grand Marshal of this year’s Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race on Saturday, April 18, part of the 35th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Singing the National Anthem before the green flag is dropped will be singer/actress Gloria Reuben, best known to audiences for her role on the long-running television hit “ER” as well as her critically acclaimed concert and cabaret performances.

Henrie will give the “start your engines” command and be driven around the track in a red Toyota Solara convertible to precede this historic, 10-lap race for charity through a 1.97-mile street circuit through the downtown streets of Long Beach. The Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, one of six featured events during race weekend, gives fans a chance to see their favorite stars duke it out on the track during exciting action-packed competition.

A Fan-Friendly Fanfare

Legendary pro skateboarder and X-Games champion Danny Way is among the celebrity drivers, competing with young Hollywood powerhouses such as Keanu Reeves; Academy Award winner Adrien Brody; Fonzworth Bentley, star of MTV’s “From G’s to Gents,” and multi-talented actress and singer Raven-Symone, best known for her own hit Disney show, “That’s So Raven,” on which Henrie once appeared in a recurring role as Larry. TV buffs also will be able to spot “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek; Eric Close of CBS’s “Without a Trace”; Mary Lynn Rajskub of FOX’s “24″; Tim Daly, currently starring on the “Grey’s Anatomy” spin-off, “Private Practice”; Comedy Central’s Carlos Mencia and even E! Entertainment’s Executive News Editor Ken Baker behind the wheels of their race-ready Scion tCs.

Moving up to the Pro Category is last year’s Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race winner, ESPN pit reporter Jamie Little, who joins Al Unser, Jr., the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, two-time CART Series Champion and overall winner of the 1985 Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race; Johnny Benson, 2008 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion, and Coy Gibbs, owner of the JGRMX Supercross/Motocross Team.

For a complete list of the 18 participating drivers, log onto www.toyota.com/motorsports/pro_celeb. Fans also can log onto www.lasvegasadvisor.com to see how Anthony Curtis, president of LasVegasAdvisor.com and one of the world’s most recognized and quoted gambling authorities, has sized up the field’s chances. Visitors to his site also can vote for how they think their favorite stars will finish. [The odds have been presented solely for entertainment purposes. There will be no actual wagering on the outcome of the race.]

Henrie: A Sought-After Young Actor and Budding Producer

Henrie broke into acting with guest starring roles in highly regarded shows such as “Providence,” “Judging Amy” and “Without a Trace,” before securing a series regular stint on the FOX sitcom, “The Pitts,” produced by Mike Scully of “The Simpsons.” It was there that Henrie caught the eye of one Disney executive, who tracked his career and later, when he was available, cast him on “That’s So Raven,” eventually leading to his breakout role as Justin Russo on “The Wizards of Waverly Place” and the lead in the Disney Channel original film, “Dadnapped.”

Henrie also recently completed production on the “Wizards of Waverly Place Movie,” which will air on The Disney Channel in August.

His ability to play a wide range of characters has made Henrie a sought-after young actor in both television and film, where he has appeared alongside veteran actors Lee Majors in “Arizona Summer,” Linda Blair and George Kennedy in “Monster Maker” and Justine Bateman in “Dead Hollywood Mom’s Society.”

However, what makes Henrie an ideal choice as Grand Marshal of the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race is his effort to provide a forum for young, aspiring filmmakers from across the country to showcase their work and network, in the wake of critical funding cuts to arts programs. Henrie is a founder of YUTE Productions, where he has joined forces with other filmmakers and A-List writers to produce innovative “Y-Gen” content and establish a flourishing social network. “I hope the site will be like an SNL-meets-IFC,” said Henrie.

Reuben: Honoring Our Nation in Song

Reuben will perform the “Star Spangled Banner” before an audience of 60,000 fans. She credits the early influence of her mother, an accomplished singer, and her older brother, a Broadway actor, for inspiring her to develop her performing talents. She began playing piano as a child and studied ballet, jazz and music technique and theory at the prestigious Canadian Royal Conservatory.

In 1988, she relocated to Los Angeles and raised her television profile as a recurring regular on “The Round Table” and as a guest star on “The Young Riders” and “ China Beach,” a series produced by “ER” executive producer John Wells.

Soon after, Reuben began on “ER” in a recurring role as Jeanie Boulet, a role which evolved into a series regular by the second season. She also has co-starred as Jean-Claude Van Damme’s partner in the feature film “TimeCop” and with Johnny Depp in “Nick of Time.” Her TV movies include “Percy and Thunder” (opposite James Earl Jones) and NBC’s “Confessions: Two Faces of Evil.”

In 2000, following her departure as a regular cast member on “ER,” Reuben extended her burgeoning career into contemporary music, singing back-up on the North American leg of Tina Turner’s “24/7″ concert tour and joining Michael Feinstein for his holiday gala performance to close out 2002.

Reuben performed the Canadian National Anthem for the 2003 NBA All-Star Game, and she has subsequently sung America’s National Anthem on numerous Sunday games for the New York Giants during NFL season as well as at Madison Square Garden for the NBA’s New York Knicks and the NHL’s New York Rangers.

“It’s a pleasure to have Gloria Reuben salute this highly competitive group of drivers with our National Anthem and to have David Henrie as the Grand Marshal of the 33rd Annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race,” said Les Unger, Toyota’s national motorsports manager. “I’m sure that our fans – and their families – will get goose bumps when Gloria performs, as well as a big kick out of hearing Henrie shout, ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Scion Engines!’”

Ticket and Race Information

Tickets for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, featuring six racing events, can be purchased from the Grand Prix ticket office by calling the toll-free ticket hotline at (888) 82-SPEED. A handy fan guide – which includes circuit map, grandstand and parking locations, ticket prices and order form – can be obtained by calling the ticket hotline. Tickets also are available online at www.longbeachgp.com or www.ticketmaster.com.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Celebrity odds are provided for entertainment purposes only. Wagering on the outcome of the race is neither encouraged nor implied.]

SOURCE Toyota Motorsports

Source: newswire

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