Sunday’s race is set for a SmackDown special feature as Daytona International Speedway announced today that WWE Superstar Charlotte Flair will serve as an honorary race official for the 65th running of the DAYTONA 500. Additionally, the track announced the Bethune-Cookman University Marching Wildcats band will amp up the energy before the NASCAR Cup Series season opener on Sunday, Feb. 19.
Flair will serve as an honorary race official for the pre-race ceremonies ahead of The Great American Race while the Marching Wildcats will take part in a new tradition as NASCAR kicks off its 75thAnniversary season. The full band – more than 230 strong – will perform for 20 minutes on the ballfield during pre-race festivities. Additionally, members of the Marching Wildcats will provide the pomp and circumstance by leading the field of 40 drivers from the drivers meeting and through the UNOH Fanzone to the grid before the race.
“We’re thrilled to have Charlotte Flair as our honorary race official, adding her signature Smackdown style to the excitement of the DAYTONA 500 pre-race ceremonies,” said Daytona International Speedway President Frank Kelleher. “We are also so proud to welcome amazing performers from our own backyard, the Bethune-Cookman University Marching Wildcats, to fire up the crowd as all 40 drivers walk to the grid moments before climbing into their cars.”
Flair has built a Hall of Fame caliber career in the WWE ring. The WWE Superstar is the current SmackDown Women’s Champion, holding the title for a record-setting seventh time. Daughter of 16-time World Champion Ric Flair, Charlotte Flair is a second-generation Superstar and one of the first women to headline a WWE Premium Live Event.
Flair is a force in the world of WWE. As a 14-time world champion, she is one of the most dominant Superstars in history and is currently gearing up for the biggest WrestleMania of all time this April. Nicknamed “The Queen,” she went undefeated over the course of 16 Premium Live Events and now adds honorary race official for the 65th running of the DAYTONA 500 to her impressive resume.
Daytona Beach’s own Bethune-Cookman University Marching Wildcats will join the pre-race festivities from only two miles down the road. Known as “The PRIDE” of B-CU, the performers are known for putting on some of the most impressive half-time performances in college football and were featured in the Netflix series “Marching Orders.”
Fans will have an amazing opportunity to be a part of DAYTONA 500 history as the full field will parade through the UNOH Fanzone on Sunday afternoon prior to pre-race ceremonies. The processional will begin at the conclusion of the drivers meeting, and will be headed up by members of “The PRIDE” of B-CU. The band will lead the field in a high-energy, fan-focused walk to the grid, where the drivers will then take part in driver introductions on the stage in front of the sold-out grandstands.
Flair and the B-CU Marching Wildcats add even more star power to the already-impressive list of performances set to precede the DAYTONA 500. Grammy-nominated artist Dierks Bentley will perform the pre-race concert, while PLATINUM artist-songwriter BRELAND will sing the National Anthem. The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will then perform their signature “Delta” formation for their 13th consecutive DAYTONA 500 flyover.
The action during Speedweeks Presented by AdventHealth continues on Thursday, Feb. 16, it’s high stakes on the high banks in the Bluegreen Vacations Duel, as drivers such as Jimmie Johnson and Travis Pastrana battle it out for the chance to race on Sunday.
Friday sees the return of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in the Next Era Energy 250. Then, the racing continues with a double header on Saturday, Feb. 18, with the ARCA Menards Series Race, followed by the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner 300.
Then, on Sunday, the drivers of the NASCAR Cup Series will make their 2023 season debut in the 65thrunning of the DAYTONA 500.