The Grand Marshal at this weekend's Bombardier Learjet 550 at Texas Motor Speedway will be bigger than ever.
NBA star Shaquille O'Neal has been named the Grand Marshal of this year's race. The 15-time All Star with four NBA titles will give the command, "Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines,"
The 7-footer will also ride in the Pace Car along side three-time Indy 500 winner Johnny Rutherford.
"We've had some big superstars at Texas Motor Speedway over the years but Shaq may be the biggest – literally," Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage said. "They don't call him "The Diesel" for nothing. I don’t foresee him having a problem getting the fans excited."
For O’Neal, it will be his first appearance at an IndyCar Series event and first visit to Texas Motor Speedway as well.
"I am excited about being the Grand Marshal and coming to my first IndyCar race at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend,” O'Neal said. “Since they won't let me enter the race, I'll do the next best thing and start the race in the pace car. I'm sure Johnny Rutherford can teach me a few things during the ride so when the day comes and I do get to race an IndyCar I'll be ready."
O’Neal’s enthusiasm for the IndyCar Series developed out of a recent partnership with the IndyCar Series team, Luczo Dragon Racing. O’Neal and the team will raise money and awareness for charities throughout the 2009 season.
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The last two years the team has partnered with champion athletes to help raise more than $1 million for charitable organizations. It has partnered with a number of athletes including Wayne Gretzky, Joe Montana, John Elway, Marcus Allen, and Serena and Venus Williams. Luczo Dragon Racing, which fields the No. 2 entry for Raphael Matos, developed the program to raise money, increase exposure to the sport and encourage a
philanthropic spirit that inspires others to make an impact in their communities.
For tickets to the IndyCar Series Bombardier Learjet 550k, please call (817) 215-8500 or visit www.texasmotorspeedway.com.