(East Los Angeles, CA) [From The Editor’s Desk]: There is an Honorary Starter scenario in one of our previous pieces, and there is also the Grand Marshal significant appearance at NASCAR Cup Series events. The Company has become known for its selections of Grand Marshals and this Sunday promises to be one of the best for fans to know up front exactly who the Pala Casino 400 Marshal is. We encourage you to read on and learn more about this highly recognizable celebrity who will be on the track as the Grand Marshal who must say the four most famous words in competitive racing, “Drivers, start your engines!!!” He will have the last and final opportunity to give this command to these highly watched and followed NASCAR drivers at the Fontana, CA, Auto Club Speedway’s concluding race after a quarter of a century of hosting this outstanding event.
We now bring you the account that hundreds of media outlets have been anxious to learn about, and that’s who is getting the call to be the Grand Marshal for the final Auto Club Speedway’s Pala Casino 400 race this coming Sunday. Well, the answer is right here in this press announcement issued by NASCAR.
Michael Rooker Named Grand Marshal for Pala Casino 400
Actor Best Known for his Roles as Rowdy Burns in ‘Days of Thunder’ & Yondu Udonta in Marvel’s ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Films to Give Command to Start Engines
FONTANA, Calif. (Feb. 21, 2023) – All puns intended, the final command to start engines at Auto Club Speedway’s historic 2-mile oval will be a “Rowdy” one to remember. That’s because Michael Rooker will serve as the Grand Marshal for the Pala Casino 400 on Sunday. The actor known for his role as Rowdy Burns in “Days of Thunder” will bellow the famous command “drivers start your engines!”
“Michael Rooker is an immensely successful actor, but his turn as Rowdy Burns is one of the most memorable on-screen depictions of motorsports on the big screen,” said Auto Club Speedway President Dave Allen. “We are proud to welcome him as our Grand Marshal, and we can’t wait to hear him give the command for the historic last race on the 2-mile oval.”
NASCAR and Auto Club Speedway announced earlier that the Pala Casino 400 will be the last race held on the track’s current configuration. Planning continues for a proposed half-mile short track located on a portion of the speedway’s current property, but timing for commencement of that project remains uncertain. That lends extra gravitas to Rooker’s role on Sunday, and he embraces the opportunity.
“I am grateful for the chance to give the command for this historic event,” Rooker said. “As someone who was raised in NASCAR country, I’ve always appreciated fans asking about my portrayal of Rowdy Burns in ‘Days of Thunder’. As I return to another NASCAR race, I can unequivocally state that I agree with Robert Duvall’s character Harry Hogge who said, ‘rubbin, son, is racin’.”
Rooker is an American actor best known for his turn as the blue-skinned alien Yondu Udonta in the top grossing Marvel films Guardians of the Galaxy, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and also as the character fans loved to hate on AMC’s worldwide hit television show The Walking Dead, Merle Dixon.
Rooker has thrilled fans for decades with complex portrayals of characters audiences can’t help but embrace despite their dark personas. He made his film debut in 1986 playing the title role in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. He has since appeared in numerous films including Mississippi Burning, Sea of Love, Days of Thunder, JFK, Cliffhanger, Tombstone, Mallrats, Rosewood, The 6th Day, and Jumper. Rooker also has a prolific relationship with writer/director James Gunn, appearing in Gunn-helmed productions Slither, Super, The Belko Experiment and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy franchise and Warner Bros’ The Suicide Squad. Rooker also voiced Yondu Udonta in the animated series What if….? from Marvel. In 2022, he began filming for the upcoming western series Horizons, reunited with JFK co-star Kevin Costner.
He has guest starred on numerous TV shows including Stargate SG-1, CSI: Miami, Las Vegas, JAG, Numb3rs, Law & Order, Chuck, Criminal Minds, Psych, Burn Notice, and Archer. He added his voice talents to Activision’s video game The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct. Rooker’s voice-over work in video games has also included Mike Harper, the lead character in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, and the villain Vikke in Lollipop Chainsaw.
Rooker, who has eight brothers and sisters, was born in Jasper, Alabama and studied at the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago, where he moved with his mother and siblings at the age of thirteen.
The Pala Casino 400 weekend at Auto Club Speedway marks the historic continuation of NASCAR’s 75th anniversary season. The action begins on Saturday with the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ Production Alliance Group 300, then continues on Sunday with the NASCAR Cup Series’ Pala Casino 400.
Tickets are on sale now, and fans are encouraged to visit www.autoclubspeedway.com for the latest ticket information.
– ABOUT AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY –
Located 50 miles east of Los Angeles in Fontana, Auto Club Speedway is California’s premier motorsports facility, hosting over 320 days of track activity each year including a NASCAR Cup Series weekend. The two-mile D-shaped oval is one of the fastest tracks on the NASCAR circuit. The Speedway is also home to numerous movie, television and commercial productions, photo shoots, new car testing, club racing and a variety of racing schools. For more information on events at Auto Club Speedway, call 1-800-944-RACE (7223), visit www.AutoClubSpeedway.com or download the NASCAR Tracks App at www.autoclubspeedway.com/nascar-tracks-app/