With the Super Bowl behind us, it’s time for fans to look forward to another big sports event on the horizon: the 2016 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Pro/Celebrity Race. Perhaps the most underrated motorsports event of the year, the TPCR always provides great entertainment, such as last year when Alfonso Ribeiro smoked the competition in his return to the grid.
There are about two months to go before this year’s event, so in keeping with our annual tradition, we’ve assembled our short list of eight celebrities who deserve a shot behind the wheels of those Scion FR-S’s in 2016. Who would you like to see participate in this year’s race?
2016 Pro/Celebrity Race Dream Grid (in alphabetical order):
1. Jaimie Alexander (Blindspot)
The number one thing that the Pro/Celebrity Race has been lacking in is women who can competitively drive. Tricia Helfer did her level best to carry that torch the last two races, but people rarely get invited back three years in a row, so why not turn to the star of one of TV’s hottest shows? Alexander is hugely popular right now and she’s also game for anything; if she can drive a stick shift half as well as she fights, she’d provide some serious competition.
2. Adam Ferrara (Top Gear, Nurse Jackie)
This one’s a holdover from last year, but we’re still waiting for Ferrara to get his invite to the big event. He’s the only Top Gear co-host who has not participated in the race and that’s not right, because he’d also be the most entertaining. Ferrara is exactly the type of celebrity TPCR should be going after; someone who genuinely loves cars, is a good representative for the event, and who’s going to give it his best shot. Even if he ends up in Turn 3 backwards and on fire.
3. Jeff Hephner (Code Black, Agent X)
If we learned one lesson this TV season, it’s that Jeff Hephner is a badass. Not just on TV, but a real-life badass. He proved from his work on Agent X that he is one tough guy who isn’t afraid of a challenge. So he has more than earned the opportunity to take his chances on the Long Beach track. As if that wasn’t enough, he’s charming, funny and no one would have more fun at the Pro/Celebrity Race than he would. It’s just a perfect match.
4. Will Yun Lee (Strike Back, Hawaii Five-0)
The closest thing we have to a real-life ninja is Will Yun Lee. He has made a career out of being a formidable threat on television, but how would he fare in a race car? That would be the fun of it. He’s been in so many high-profile shows over the last few years and also has a new one coming up in USA’s Falling Water, so from that standpoint he’d be easy to promote. But mostly, we’d think he’d just drive over people and it would be glorious.
5. Adam Levine (The Voice, Maroon 5)
Who wouldn’t want one of the biggest names in music as part of their event? If only Levine had any time in his always busy schedule between show tapings and tour dates he’d be a wonderful addition. We know from his celebrity lap on the US Top Gear that he’s very competitive and loves to drive fast, and he’d draw a crowd to the TPCR just by himself. Added bonus: let’s put a GoPro in his car and capture all the wisecracking along the way.
6. Joshua Morrow (The Young and the Restless)
Last year’s pole-sitter had a very tough break when he made contact with Dave Pasant on the final lap. He deserves the opportunity to come back and avenge that. Morrow is someone who was very committed to the TPCR and really wanted to win, and he has the skills. The only thing that held him back was something that wasn’t his fault. Let’s make things right and give him one more shot.
7. Christian Slater (Mr. Robot)
If the TPCR folks are looking for marketable names, then let’s look no further than Slater, who just earned himself a Golden Globe Award for his work on Mr. Robot, which happens to be another insanely popular show right now. Slater’s a car guy (he appeared on the UK version of Top Gear opposite Jeremy Clarkson and did decently), and he’s got name pull.
8. Philip Winchester (The Player, Strike Back)
We said this last year and we’ll keep saying it until it happens. Philip Winchester has to do a Pro/Celebrity Race at some point. He’s a legitimately talented action star who can do his own stunt driving, so he should easily be able to race a car. Beyond that, he has the kind of personality that would light up a room; he’d become a fan favorite in about five seconds. If the race really wants talent, Winchester has to at least be asked.
The 2016 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is set for Saturday, Apr. 16. For tickets and more information about the entire GPLB weekend, visit the event’s official website (gplb.com).