Agency: The Hollywood-Madison Group Program: Pro-Celebrity Match Race (event) Manager: Jonathan Holiff
Cadillac Grand Prix featured pro-celebrity match race: “The West Wing” cast members, William Shatner, Timothy Dalton among drivers
WASHINGTON: Televised live on NBC to more than 300 million homes worldwide, The Cadillac Grand Prix was the first major auto-racing event in the U.S. capital in more than 80 years. A massive, temporary racetrack was erected on the grounds of RFK Stadium.
The event, which attracted an estimated 150,000 spectators, featured the American Le Mans Series.
Based on the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans, ALMS is the world’s most famous endurance motorsports race. Teams representing Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Corvette, Dodge, Ferrari, Panoz, and Porsche competed. The three-day festival also featured a rock concert, celebrity golf tournament, the Trans-Am Race and the Grand Prix Ball.
The pro-celebrity match race featured actual racing cars.
Unlike other events, which use converted-from-production models, the 2500-pound, two-seat Panoz GT-RA was built from the ground up to be a legitimate, competitive race car. The Panoz GT-RA features a tube-frame with full race suspension and a specially prepared, 250 hp, 5.0-litre Ford V8 powerplant.
Only celebrities with prior racing experience could apply for a slot. Participation was also subject to advance special training at Panoz Racing Schools in Sebring, Atlanta, or Dallas. Not all applicants were successful in completing training.
Celebrity racers included: William Shatner (“Star Trek”); Timothy Dalton (“The Living Daylights”); Coolio (rap artist); Tim Matheson (“The West Wing”); Steve Harrell (“Smashmouth”); Kim Alexis (model); Todd English (celebrity chef); Melissa Joan Hart (“Sabrina: The Teenage Witch”); Brad Whitford (Aerosmith); Ian Ziering (“Beverly Hills 90210”); and, Pierre Thuot (astronaut).
The three-day weekend festival featured a concert, world-record-breaking jump by Robbie Knievel, Lifestyle Expo, and the pro-celebrity match race.
The Cadillac Grand Prix Gala, a black-tie event benefiting Kennedy Krieger Institute, honoured Judy Woodruff (CNN anchor) and Albert R. Hunt (The Wall Street Journal). Master of Ceremonies was Andrea Mitchell, then Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent for NBC News.
Jonathan Holiff of The Hollywood-Madison Group was tasked with developing the pro-celebrity match race, securing the celebrities, and managing press relations.