Friday, November 6, 2009
Even with Jimmie Johnson closing in on a record fourth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship - as documented here - the action at Phoenix International Raceway for the November 12-15 Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts weekend is not merely limited to the track. A number of celebrities will appear and live entertainment will delight NASCAR fans at several locations at the track throughout the weekend, and one of the most prominent names in Arizona will headline the Sunday slate as the Chase for the Sprint Cup speeds toward a historic conclusion. Arizona Senator John McCain will act as the Grand Marshal for the Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 Presented by Pennzoil NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday, November 15. The role will mark a return to Phoenix International Raceway for the Grand Canyon State's senior senator, who also appeared as Grand Marshal before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the track in April 2006. "I'm thrilled to serve as the Grand Marshal for the NASCAR race on Sunday," said McCain. A retired Navy captain, McCain entered the United States Senate in 1987 following four years as a member of the United States House of Representatives from Arizona's 1st Congressional District. As Grand Marshal, McCain will appear on the pre-race ceremonies stage with Phoenix International Raceway president Bryan R. Sperber to welcome NASCAR fans, drivers, and teams to the Valley of the Sun for the Semi-Final Showdown in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Following driver introductions, McCain will deliver the familiar "Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!" command to the 43 starters in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series field. While another of Sunday's honorary officials may not carry McCain's legislative acumen, he does share a willingness to service the United States of America - albeit in an entirely different (and more visually entertaining) way. WWE Hall of Famer and current WWE Ambassador Sgt. Slaughter will attend the Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 as part of a promotional partnership between Phoenix International Raceway and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) for WrestleMania XXVI, which will be held in Arizona in March 2010. One of the WWE's most beloved Superstars of the mid-1980s and current WWE Ambassador, Sgt. Slaughter will appear on the pre-race ceremonies stage with Sperber to welcome NASCAR fans, drivers, and teams to the Valley of the Sun for the Semi-Final Showdown in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. "I plan to take my duties as Honorary Race Official as serious as I did service to my country," said Sgt. Slaughter. "I can't wait to jump in the pace car. I pledge to do my best to make sure that everyone attending the weekend of events has a great time at the beautiful Phoenix International Raceway." In addition to his time on the pre-race stage, Slaughter will make multiple appearances for fans in Phoenix International Raceway hospitality clubs throughout the weekend, and will act as the honorary pace car driver before Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series Able Body Labor 200. With one of the most instantly recognizable monikers of any WWE Superstar in history, Sgt. Slaughter is truly one of a kind. A former U.S. Marine, he solidified that name by intimidating adversaries and fans alike in his trademark drill sergeant attire. With West Coast roots and a history of Top 40 hits, including "First Time," "You and Me," and the No. 1 single "Hanging By A Moment," the Interscope Geffen recording artists Lifehouse will return to their native region of the country for a performance just hours before the green flag drops on the Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 Presented by Pennzoil, the Semi-Final Race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Lifehouse - comprised of singer-songwriter Jason Wade, drummer Rick Woolstenhulme, bassist Bryce Soderberg, and newly-added guitarist Ben Carey - are putting the finishing touches on a new album to be released next year. The remaining live music schedule at PIR for the weekend includes an '80s Night bash at SPEED Cantina on Saturday, featuring an 8 p.m. performance by HairForce. Tickle will perform at the Budweiser ROLL-BAR Stage at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, and three SPEED Cantina performances by Phoenix favorite Harry Luge Jr. (9 p.m. Thursday, 9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. Sunday) dot the schedule. Post-checkered flag acts at the Budweiser ROLL-BAR Stage by China Grove: The Doobie Brothers Experience (Friday) and TNT: The AC/DC Show (Saturday) will take NASCAR fans back into the classic days of rock. Tickets to witness the championship atmosphere of the November NASCAR event weekend at Phoenix International Raceway - with prices as low as $25 for the Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 - can be purchased online at the newly-designed PhoenixRaceway.com or by calling 1-866-408-RACE (7223). The PIR Ticket Office is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 125 S. Avondale Blvd., just south of I-10 at Exit 131 in Avondale.