REGIONAL and international celebrities from the worlds of sport, entertainment and media are set to make their racing debuts in front of thousands of people at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir during the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix scheduled from March 10 to 12.
An anticipated televised audience of 400 million global viewers will tune in to watch five-time Olympic gold medallist rowing icon Sir Steve Redgrave, three-time Grammy award winning US musician John Legend and world famous rhythmic guitarist Status Quo's Rick Parfitt fight it out on the track.
"I'm really excited. The race represents a new sporting challenge for me and I'm keen to see I can perform as well on the track as I do off it. Of course it will be fun but I have a very competitive nature and I don't enjoy losing so I will be giving it my all out in Bahrain," said Redgrave.
Sir Steve isn't the only Olympic gold medallist competing in the race, as British hero Redgrave will be joined by legendary American sprinter Michael Johnson.
Four-time gold medallist Johnson, famed for his gold running shoes, is widely perceived as one of the greatest sprinters of all time having won nine world championship titles.
It won't just be testosterone that will rule on the race track, the fairer sex will be well represented with a strong line up including British motoring journalist Emma Parker Bowles, stepdaughter of the future King of England and Egyptian singing and acting sensation Anoushka.
Persian-born Laleh Seddigh, motor sport's answer to Angelina Jolie, will be adding to the line-up of pro drivers supporting the celebrities.
There will be two races, one on Saturday and one on Sunday before the start of the opening round of the 2006 FIA Formula One World Championship.
Each 10-lap race will consist of 16 cars with the professional drivers starting and completing the first five laps of the track before a pit stop swap with their celebrity partners for the remainder of the race.
Joining the all-star line up at the BIC is Pink Floyd drummer and founding member Nick Mason.
Mason, an avid classic car fanatic, perhaps has the upper hand on some of his fellow celebrities being no stranger to racing having competed previously at Le Mans.
The International celebrities will be joined by regional celebrity drivers from Bahrain and the Middle East. Lebanese favourite Ragheb Alama, a man firmly established as one of the Middle East's top singers and personalities will also take to the wheel in front of a legion of fans at the Grand Prix.
Alama will have regional competition from Bahrain's Olympiad Rashid Ramzi. Ramzi became the first man to complete the 800m and 1,500m double at the World Athletics Championships in Helsinki last year when he stormed down the finishing straight to hold off the late rush from Olympic champion Yuri Borzakovski in a flying finish in the 800m final.
The race will be the first of its kind in Bahrain and compliments the curtain-raiser to the 2006 FIA Formula One World Championship.
"I am so delighted at the reaction and willingness of the stars to take part in the Pro-Celebrity race. It's great to have so many high-calibre personalities taking time out of their schedules to participate in this event. I am in no doubt that the two races will prove to be very entertaining for the crowds and the viewers at home," said BIC general manager Martin Whitaker.
The 16 identical Chevrolet V8 SS Luminas have 380bhp and a top speed of 280km/h, creating a sound and spectacle perfectly in keeping with the Grand Prix weekend.