Dwayne Johnson, DJ Khaled, Miss America Join Daytona 500 Festivites


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The Daytona 500 has added three star names to prerace ceremonies. Star actor and former pro wrestler Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson will serve as Grand Marshal, Grammy award-winning DJ and producer DJ Khaled will be the honorary starter, and Miss America winner Madison Marsh will be the honorary pace car driver.

Grand Marshal Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson

For Johnson, the appearance in Daytona Beach will be a homecoming - or at least a bit of one. He attended the University of Miami in the early 90's where he played college football and studied criminology and physiology.

He later went on to become one of the most iconic pro wrestlers in the world, where the nickname 'The Rock' became household lore. His ultra-successful acting career led him to star in hits such as Black Adam, Moana, and the Fast & the Furious franchise. He's been the recipient of People's Choice Awards, MTV Movie & TV Awards, and two years as one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World (2016, 2019).

“Nothing compares to the intensity and anticipation of that first command of the NASCAR season as we kick off the 66th running of the Daytona 500, and who better to say those four famous words than Dwayne Johnson,” said Daytona International Speedway President Frank Kelleher. “There are very few people who can truly match the energy around the pomp and circumstance of The Great American Race, and The Rock may be the only person who can actually ramp it up even more. We can’t wait to see how he fires up the crowd and the engines for all the fans.”   

Honorary Starter DJ Khaled

DJ Khaled will also be on-hand as part of a promotional partnership with Wendy's and their Biggie Bag deal. Khaled has collaborated with music stars such as Jay-Z, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, Beyoncé, and dozens more in his wildly successful music career.

He's been nominated for ten Grammy Awards, with one win in 2020 for Best Rap/Sung Performance for his song "Higher" with Nipsey Hussle and John Legend.

“I’ve always respected the Biggie lifestyle at Wendy’s and being chosen as this year’s honorary starter lets me turn that dream into reality,” DJ Khaled said. “Going Biggie means going all out in everything, every day and challenging expectations at every turn. And being this year’s honorary starter is yet another way for me to do just that! I’m looking forward to seeing all the fans at the track and in the infield at the Wendy’s activation, you won’t want to miss it!”

“We always love welcoming back our friends from Wendy’s, and introducing DJ Khaled into the mix as our Honorary Starter just amplifies an already spectacular list of pre-race dignitaries,” Kelleher added. “There’s truly nothing like the experience of hearing those cars take the first lap at Daytona, and who knows, maybe the sounds of the engines rumbling past that starter stand as he waives the green flag will provide DJ Khaled with some inspiration for another chart-topping hit.”

Honorary Pace Car Driver Madison Marsh

Madison Marsh, the recent winner of the Miss America 2024 pageant, will be the honorary pace car driver in the Daytona 500. Having previously been crowned Miss Colorado, she competed in the Miss America pageant at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando last month. She is the fourth Coloradan to win.

Beyond that prestigious accomplishment, 22-year-old Marsh is a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force (she's the first active service member to win Miss America). She's currently enrolled at Harvard Kennedy School pursuing a Master of Public Policy. She also holds a black belt in taekwondo.

“Being the first Miss America to drive the official pace car at the Daytona 500 is an exciting honor,” Marsh said. “I’m thrilled to be part of this historic moment and to represent the tradition of speed, skill, and Americana at such an iconic event.”

“It’s an honor to have someone like Madison, who has so much spirit, passion and national pride, join us for the Daytona 500,” added Kelleher. “She is a clear representation of everything we try to embody each race day, as we bring fans, drivers and teams together from different corners of the world to enjoy the traditions and the thrills of The Great American Race at this historic track.”