Big events, especially in sports, tend to draw celebrities in an attempt to attract casual viewers. That will continue at Sunday’s 60th annual Daytona 500, as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series gets underway for 2018 with actress Charlize Theron as the honorary starter, waving the green flag before the race, while former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning will drive the pace car.
Theron has starred in many movies, portraying Candy in The Cider House Rules, Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road and Cipher in The Fate of the Furious. She will star in the upcoming film Gringo in March.
Two-time Daytona 500 champion and 15-time MENCS Most Popular Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. will serve as the grand marshal, giving the opening command.
Manning won two Super Bowls in his 18-year NFL career for the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos, winning league MVP five times and being named to 14 Pro Bowls. He holds the records for most touchdowns thrown in a season with 55, most career touchdowns thrown with 539, most passing yards in a season with 5,477 and most total passing yards with 71,940.
Non-football fans will recognize him from his numerous commercial appearances, including the MasterCard “Priceless Pep Talk” ad campaign and the current “Jingle Sessions” ads for Nationwide Insurance with country music superstar Brad Paisley. Manning was also the honorary starter for the 2007 Indianapolis 500.