Quick Stats: Tony Hawk legendary skateboarder
Daily Driver: 2008 Grand Cherokee Jeep SRT8 (Tony's rating: 8 on a scale of 1 to 10)
Other cars: see below
Favorite road trip: 2006 Gumball 3000 Rally
Car he learned to drive in: 1977 Honda Civic
First car bought: 1977 Honda Civic
Celebrities gathered at Willow Springs Raceway outside of Los Angeles recently for the annual training sessions meant to rev them up for this year's Pro/Celebrity Race at the 36th annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, to be held April 16-18.
It was Day One of a grueling few days of practice, and friendly trash talk already was erupting between return celeb racers -- last year's champ Keanu Reeves and Oscar-winner Adrien Brody -- while one of the gods of the action sports world sat quietly in his race-prepped Scion tC, processing newfound skills taught by famed racing teacher Danny McKeever and other instructors on the Streets of Willow.
Although this is not Tony Hawk's home turf of skateboarding, which he helped catapult into the public's psyche, the pensive icon and marketing phenom has raced before, at Lowe's Motor Speedway. But Hawk is a newbie to this race and technical tracks, although it's something he's wanted to participate in for a while.
After spending time in a NASCAR car, Hawk couldn't help but get bit by the auto racing bug. "I've had two opportunities to drive NASCAR and I got such a rush out of it, I just said, 'Any opportunity to drive fast, I want to take it,'" Hawk told Truck Trend Online.
"Toyota has invited me in previous years, but I always had a conflict, either with my schedule or with my sponsors, because for a couple years I was sponsored by Jeep, so I couldn't do the Toyota event. Now I'm a free agent, so to speak. So when I got this opportunity, I jumped right on it."
It was the end of the first day of practice at Willow, where the celeb drivers hone new skills such as braking and downshifting; cornering exercises (entering into a turn, at first with the help of orange traffic cones); and vehicle dynamics to realize the limits of their Scion tCs. The skid pad was watered down and they were taught handbrake turns such as forward and then reverse 180s. These are the same sport coupes they'll be racing at Long Beach, fully race-prepped with roll cages, window nets, fire suppression systems, and five-point harnesses.
These are the same skills McKeever teaches at his FAST LANE Racing School at Willow, but beyond confidently racing each other by the end of practice, these celebs also practice race starts for upcoming race in Long Beach. They're gridded up exactly as they are at Long Beach, with the pace car leading them around the track before the green flag is waved.