Daytona 500 2013: Actor James Franco Named Grand Marshal for Prestigious Race

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIFebruary 8, 2013

James Franco in "Oz the Great and Powerful." Photo Credit:
James Franco in "Oz the Great and Powerful." Photo Credit:

Oscar-nominated actor James Franco has been named as the grand marshal for NASCAR's renowned Daytona 500, according to a report by Fox Sports on Friday. 

The report notes that Franco will utter the famous phrase, "Drivers, start your engines!" in the 55th running of the race on Feb. 24, and it also broke down what else he will be doing in his unique position:

[Franco will] also be introduced at the drivers' meeting, participate in prerace ceremonies and ride in one of the grand marshal cars during the pace laps prior to the green flag of the 200-lap, 500-mile race.

Franco is making this special appearance rather appropriately, as he slated to be the title character in his upcoming film Oz the Great and Powerful.

The Sam Raimi-directed Disney feature sports a talented cast and serves as a prequel to the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz, which was adapted from a novel by L. Frank Baum of the same name.

This sort of publicity is a unique opportunity to promote the movie and also to bring even more popularity to the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Daytona International Speedway president Joie Chitwood expressed excitement in welcoming Franco aboard to take part in the prerace festivities. 

The 34-year-old Franco joins other renowned performing celebrities such as Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey and Jane Lynch who have had the honor of being grand marshal in recent years (h/t Sporting News).

Franco's aforementioned Oscar nomination came in the Best Actor category for his work in the 2010 film 127 Hours, directed by Danny Boyle. He played the character of Aron Ralston, who had to sever his arm off to break free from a boulder and survived for days without any assistance.