The 2023 running of the Daytona 500 is less than a week away, and motorsports fans around the world are gearing up for what’s sure to be a hell of a race. One of the most famous parts of the prerace pageantry, of course, is the “start your engines” command, typically delivered by a celebrity Grand Marshal and marking the official start of the Great American Race. Over the past 20 years, there have certainly been some memorable commands, as cataloged in the video below.
Every Daytona 500 command to start engines from 2003-2022 pic.twitter.com/bDCGj9c93J
— nascarman (@nascarman_rr) February 13, 2023
Several movie stars have kicked off the Daytona 500 throughout the last two decades. John Travolta had the honor of giving the command in 2003, while Matthew McConaughey fired up the field in 2005, and Nicholas Cage led the charge in 2007. In 2011, Michael Bay, Rosie Huntington-Whitely and Josh Duhamel called out “the most famous words in motorsports” against the backdrop of “Roadbuster” – a heavily modified version of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 NASCAR Chevy Impala racer to promote the latest installment of the Transformers franchise. Chris Evans made the call in 2014, followed by Vince Vaughn in 2015 as well as Gerard Butler and Owen Wilson in 2016 and 2017.
Of course, celebrities aren’t the only ones to have been given the honor of firing up the NASCAR field for the Daytona 500. Politicians often step up to the mic to give the shout. President Bush fired off the command in 2004, President Donald Trump was tapped for the role of Grand Marshal for the 2020 running, and Florida governor Charlie Crist was given the opportunity back in 2009.
Racing legends have also delivered some of the most memorable “start your engines” cries. Darrell Waltrip gave the shout in 2008, and Junior Johnson ignited the Daytona 500 field in 2010. Leonard Wood of Wood Brothers Racing gave the call in 2012, and Earnhardt Jr. himself gave a thoroughly convincing performance to send the drivers on their way in 2018.
The Grand Marshal for the 2023 Daytona 500 has yet to be revealed, but we certainly hope they deliver a worthy battle cry for the 65th Great American Race.
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