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« NASCAR Hall of Fame Ceremony Meshes Different Eras | Main | Kyle Busch and Chad Knaus Were Making Lots of News One Year Ago »

Daytona 500 pre-race could serve as celebration of the sport rather than promotional gig

By admin | February 9, 2013

 Actor James Franco will give the command for drivers to start their engines in Daytona.

By Richard AllenÂ

On Friday, it was announced by the Daytona International Speedway and Disney that actor James Franco will serve as the Grand Marshal for the 2013 Daytona 500. The movie star will ride in a pace car, deliver the starting command and perform a number of other ceremonial duties representing the sport and its biggest race.

Not so coincidentally, Franco and Disney have a new movie coming out. “Oz: The Great and Powerful” opens in theaters next month.

Franco will certainly not be the first celebrity to serve as a NASCAR Grand Marshal. In recent yearscelebrities such as John Travolta, Ben Affleck, Nicolas Cage, Kate Upton, Jane Lynch and Matthew McConaughey have all called out “Drivers, Start Your Engines!”

Doesn’t it cheapen the sport’s biggest event to allow celebrities to simply use the Daytona 500 as a promotional tool for their latest projects, especially if the star in question has no other reason for being there?

How often have we heard Grand Marshals tell radio and television interviewers that this is their first ever race? It seems to be a fairly common theme.

This piece was not written to be anti-Franco. He’s a very good actor. And for all I know, James Franco could be a huge NASCAR fan(although I doubt it). But whether he is or isn’t, his primary purpose for being in Daytona on February 24 will be to promote his new movie. That’s all well and good for him and Disney, but what about NASCAR?

The Daytona 500 is not only the sport’s premier event but it is also the lead in for the rest of a long season. Why not use this event to promote the sport and its greatness rather than James Franco and “Oz: The Great and Powerful”? Does everything always have to be a sellout to the highest bidder?

Take a look at the Indianapolis 500. Sure, there are celebrities on hand. But the core of that race’s pre-race has hardly changed over the course of years, or even decades.

Here would be my suggestion. Now that the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony has been moved to serve as a kickoff event for the season, why not let the most recently inducted members or their surviving representatives serve as Grand Marshals for the Daytona 500? What could be more appropriate than having people who built the sport issuing the command to start engines, and thus, build the new season?

Every year when possible, The Masters golf tournament is set in motion when a legendary former champion of the event hits an honorary tee shot. No celebrity promoting a movie or singer promoting a new album is on the course at Augusta National.

The Masters has green jacketed legends such as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player to start one of golf’s great events while NASCAR will have the Green Goblin.

James Franco has played the “New Green Goblin” in Spiderman movies.

In order to play along for your chance to win $25 by predicting the race winner of the Daytona 500, you must follow @RacingWithRich on Twitter or “Like” the RacingWithRichpage on Facebook. Your pick MUST be submitted on one of those two social media locations. Submissions will ONLY be accepted between 8:00am and 1:00pm(eastern) on February 24. Twitter followers MUST use the hastag #RWRDaytona500while Facebook submissions can simply be made under the post announcing the opening for submissions. Click here for full contest rules.

Topics: Articles |

8 Responses to “Daytona 500 pre-race could serve as celebration of the sport rather than promotional gig”

  1. Tony Geinzer Says:
    February 9th, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Okay,Rich, I feel that Sprint has ruined the Daytona 500 Pre Race! How about a new sponsor and a package deal for the West, Weekly Racing and the Cup! Also, I hate to use this forum as a bashing campaign, but, I feel that it needs to be an Offical NASCAR Racer or Retired Racer of Good Citizenship and here’s my Insurance Policy for Future 500’s: Why Not Run the Race on Friday or Saturday Night instead and have the Twin 125’s the Night Before? We don’t see any old celebrity buying a pit pass to The Indy 500 with no clue or knowledge of the sport in the ceremonies and for real, can’t we get off this Britney Spears Express of Celebrities for Daytona?

  2. NewMarketMauler Says:
    February 9th, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    Bravo! Could not agree more.

  3. Russ Says:
    February 10th, 2013 at 3:38 am

    Guess the only positive way to look at it is an attempt to lure the younger generation. Whether successful or not is questionable. However they have to do it. Although maybe the prerace show is the appropriate setting for that stuff.

    That said I do wonder sometimes about what drives these selections.

  4. morgan ward Says:
    February 11th, 2013 at 7:35 am

    It appears that NASCAR spends more time today pandering to the elite, jet set crowd, and entertainers rather than be concerned with the average hard working, middle class Joe like me, who has never heard of this Hollywood Clown and who could care less about the promotion of his latest film.

    I remember the good old days of NASCAR when they actually had Military Hero’s, past drivers and Devoted Fans as Grand marshal’s of the races.

    NASCAR is losing the older, more devoted fan in their having deserted them in trying more to lure in the young fan. The average young person of today has little attention span and is more devoted to texting, tweeting or playing video games rather than attending any NASCAR Race. Heck, most of the youth of today don’t have the several hundred or thousands of dollars to attend a race. I know I live in Texas, and spent about $4000.00 attending 3 races last year.This is the largest reason why you see the stands so bare nowadays.By the way, I have been a die hard NASCAR fan since 1962 and have attended countless of races over that time period.

    I am like Rich in the fact I am tired of NASCAR having these self serving elite types, who don’t know the first thing about NASCAR, serving in any honored position , especially as Grand Marshal.

    One last comment, even though it has nothing to do with the article, is that as being a retired US ARMY Combat veteran, being 100% disabled with 20 years of service to my Nation, , I am so tired of NASCAR allowing the National Anthem to be disrespected by all of the low life, self serving people who sing it, and who have no clue as to the respect that the National Anthem deserves in being properly sung, while being properly attired while singing it.I can think of no other disrespect for our Nation’s Military and Veteran’s or in fact, our Nation as a whole, than to show such utter disrespect for our National Anthem.

    Shame on NASCAR as they should insure that anybody who is given the privilege and responsibility to sing our National Anthem shows the proper respect for performing it.

    Now I’ve said it and feel much better.

  5. Jesse Says:
    February 11th, 2013 at 10:23 am

    Thank you Morgan Ward, also being a veteran you have to laugh at how on camera Nascar and all involved act so patriotic and when its off they look the other way, I saw this with Ryan Newman last year at a race when the camera was off he just walk right on by. I understand why they want the young hip generation, but the young hip could care less about Nascar.

  6. Judy Says:
    February 11th, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    Could not agree more. Also please add my vote to idiots who feel they are more important than the Anthem. And may I add NASCAR itself for allowing a corporation completely take over the Shootout with not only the stupidest name in history (unless the “Unlimited” refers to “gimmickry” that is) but giving the millions of fans who must watch from their sofas a collective reason to ignore the whole thing. If NASCAR isn’t interested in my vote why should I be interested in their show?

  7. Bill B Says:
    February 11th, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    First off, I agree with all you said but the answer is pretty obvious. As much as I hate to compare NASCAR to the NFL just look at the Super Bowl. What a joke it has become. A recent poll showed that more people watched for the commercials than the game. Add in the pregame performers and halftime performers and you kind of see that the actual game isn’t what is drawing in 5 jillion viewers. That’s why NASCAR continually parades celebrities around whenever possible… to get more people tuning in that don’t care about the race. They figure we race fans will tolerate the BS because we want the piece of cheese (er, the race) at the end of the maze.

    And I am damn sick and tired of NASCAR worrying about that 18-30 demographic. I have asked the question many times, has NASCAR ever been strong in that demographic when compared to let’s say the 30-60 crowd? (No one has ever given me an answer). Let’s face it, as much of a race fan as I am (watch every lap of every Cup race), races can be as boring as a chess match. It’s only when you can accept the fact that part of the sport is the chess match aspect of it (car set ups, adjustments, tires, gas, pit stops, etc.) that you can become a fan. Not many folks in the 18-30 group can appreciate that. I sure didn’t become a fan until I was past 30. The bottom line is that NASCAR should start targeting the older demographic and their hardcore fanbase and stop worrying about the casual fan. Any casual fans and younger demographics that tune in should be considered a bonus. Instead they let the tail wag the dog.

  8. Keith Says:
    February 11th, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    Rich I could not agree more and I had to google the guy to figure out who he is. It cheapens the sport to parade around all these people from other sports and people who act like other people for a living at the sports biggest race.