Daytona 500 celebrities: Famous fans include Matthew McConaughey, Keanu Reeves, Gronk


The Cup Series season starts Feb. 18 with the Daytona 500 and keeping with a longstanding tradition, NASCAR is bringing out some big names to set up the biggest race of the season.

Since the 1967 season, NASCAR has mostly used special guests to set up the Daytona 500. Some of these dignitaries were politicians, others were executives from a variety of industries. As the years have passed, NASCAR has leaned more toward stars of other sports, Hollywood and the music industry.

With Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson taking on the role of grand marshal for this season’s Daytona 500, it’s time to look back at the biggest names who have served as dignitaries in past iterations of the crown jewel race.

2024: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is the only announced dignitary so far. He will be the grand marshal.

2023: Actor Tiffany Haddish was the honorary starter while singer-songwriter Breland performed the national anthem. Actor and comedian Pete Davidson attended the race.

NASCAR Cup Series 65th Annual Daytona 500

NASCAR Cup Series 65th Annual Daytona 500

2022: NFL Hall of Famer Charles Woodson was the grand marshal. Country singer Trace Adkins performed the national anthem.

AUTO: FEB 20 NASCAR Cup Series - DAYTONA 500

AUTO: FEB 20 NASCAR Cup Series – DAYTONA 500

2021: Performer and Trackhouse Racing co-owner Pitbull was the grand marshal. Professional wrestler Sasha Banks was the honorary starter.

2020: President Donald Trump was the grand marshal. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the honorary starter. Professional wrestler Sheamus was the honorary pace car driver.

NASCAR Cup Series 62nd Annual Daytona 500

NASCAR Cup Series 62nd Annual Daytona 500

2019: Houston Texans defender JJ Watt was the grand marshal. New England Patriots receiver Julian Edelman was the honorary starter.

2018: Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the grand marshal. Charlize Theron was the honorary starter.

2017: Owen Wilson was the grand marshal. NFL Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson was the honorary starter. Jordin Sparks performed the national anthem. Keanu Reeves and former NFL coaches Rex and Rob Ryan were all in attendance. NFL tight end Rob Gronkowski celebrated in victory lane with Kurt Busch after Busch won the Daytona 500.

59th Annual DAYTONA 500

59th Annual DAYTONA 500

2016: Actor Gerard Butler was the grand marshal. MLB Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. was the honorary starter.

2015: Vince Vaughn was the grand marshal. National Soccer Hall of Fame member Abby Wambach was the honorary starter. Phillip Phillips performed the national anthem.

2014: Chris Evans was the grand marshal. Gary Sinise was the honorary starter. Aloe Blacc performed the national anthem.

56th Daytona 500

56th Daytona 500

2013: James Franco was the grand marshal. Retired Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis was the honorary starter. Clay Cook performed the national anthem.

2012: Kate Upton and Jane Lynch were the grand marshals. John Cena (Sunday) and the Wood Brothers family (Monday) were the honorary starters. Train lead singer Patrick Monahan performed the national anthem.

Daytona 500 Speed Week - Day 9

Daytona 500 Speed Week – Day 9

2011: Actors Josh Duhamel and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and director Michael Bay were the grand marshals and honorary starters. Martina McBride performed the national anthem.

Celebrities Attend The Daytona 500

Celebrities Attend The Daytona 500

2010: NASCAR Hall of Famer Junior Johnson was the grand marshal. Glen and Leonard Wood were the honorary starters. Harry Connick Jr. performed the national anthem.

2009: NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison was the honorary starter. Gavin DeGraw performed the national anthem. DeGraw had previously performed the national anthem for an Xfinity race at Daytona in 2006.

Celebrities At NASCAR Busch Series At Daytona

Celebrities At NASCAR Busch Series At Daytona

2008: Twenty-four living Daytona 500 champions were grand marshals. Hall of Famer Richard Petty was the honorary starter. Trisha Yearwood performed the national anthem.

2007: Nicholas Cage was the grand marshal while promoting “Ghost Rider.” Country music duo Big & Rich performed the national anthem.

2006: James Caan was the grand marshal. Olympic snowboarders Hannah Teter and Gretchen Bleiler were the honorary starters. Fergie performed the national anthem.

2005: Matthew McConaughey was the grand marshal while promoting “Sahara.” Ashton Kutcher was the honorary starter. Vanessa L. Williams performed the national anthem.

Daytona 500

Daytona 500

2004: President George W. Bush was the grand marshal. Whoopi Goldberg was the honorary starter. LeAnn Rimes performed the national anthem.

2003: John Travolta was the grand marshal. Mariah Carey performed the national anthem and was the honorary starter.

Celebrities at NASCAR Winston Cup Daytona 500

Celebrities at NASCAR Winston Cup Daytona 500

2002: Angie Harmon was the honorary starter. Opera singer Denyce Graves performed the national anthem.

2001: NFL Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw was the honorary starter. Boy band O-Town performed the national anthem.

2000: Olympic champion track and field athlete Jackie Joyner-Kersee was the honorary starter. Trumpeter Jesse McGuire performed the national anthem.

1999: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was the grand marshal. Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre was the honorary starter. Edwin McCain performed the national anthem.

1998: Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino, who co-owned Elliott-Marino Racing in 1998, was the honorary starter. Kathy Mattea performed the national anthem.

1996: Engelbert Humperdinck performed the national anthem.

1995: Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly was the honorary starter. Diamond Rio performed the national anthem.

1994: Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman was the honorary starter. Canadian country music artist Michelle Wright performed the national anthem. Aikman made multiple appearances at NASCAR races during and after his NFL career.

Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman and Tony Raines talk before the

Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman and Tony Raines talk before the

1990: The Osmonds performed the national anthem.

1987: Professional golfer Jon Mills was the honorary starter. Country singer T. G. Sheppard performed the national anthem.

1972: Actor and racer James Garner, who owned the American International Racing team from 1967-1969, was the grand marshal.



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