Daytona 500 pre-race notes

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Jan. 22, 2004 - The heart-pumping pre-race revelry leading up to "The Great American Race" - the prestigious Daytona 500 on Feb. 15, 2004 - will feature some of the most popular and well-known people in the world, sensational...

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Jan. 22, 2004 - The heart-pumping pre-race revelry leading up to "The Great American Race" - the prestigious Daytona 500 on Feb. 15, 2004 - will feature some of the most popular and well-known people in the world, sensational musical entertainment and a world-class, first-of-its-kind pre-race show at Daytona International Speedway to be televised live on NBC.

The NEXTEL-sponsored pre-race extravaganza, the culmination of events leading up to NASCAR's most prestigious race, will be entitled the Nextel Tribute to America and will feature nearly 4,000 cast members on the Speedway's historic five acre tri-oval grass. The show's finale will feature Grammy Award Winning Musician, Lee Greenwood singing his marquee track, "God Bless the USA".

"It's only natural that the "Great American Race" would be celebrated by the Nextel Tribute to America Pre-Race Show and who better to cap it off than Lee Greenwood?" said Daytona International Speedway President Robin Braig. "We're thrilled and proud to work with NEXTEL on this exciting, first-of-its kind pre-race tribute to enhance the entertainment experience for the fans here at the World Center of Racing and for those watching at home on NBC."

Additional performers and dynamic special effects will give the show a Super Bowl halftime-type atmosphere with an NBC-produced video montage of Great American Icons throughout history. The show, produced by Q&A Entertainment will arguably include a larger cast than any show of its kind at any sporting event.

"What an energized way to debut in America's most watched sport," said NEXTEL Communications Inc. Director of Sports Entertainment Michael Robichaud.

"This high-energy pre-race show will be worthy of the excitement that surrounds the Daytona 500."

Other activities surrounding the pre-race festivities will be announced at a later date.

"NBC is proud to be able to bring not just NASCAR's most prestigious race into America's living rooms, but also a taste of the excitement surrounding the race," said NBC Sports President Ken Schanzer. "Our coverage of the pre-race events is just one more reason for those loyal race fans to tune in early to kick off the 2004 NASCAR season."

The pre-race spectacle will be followed by Hollywood actor, director and writer Ben Affleck giving the most famous command in motorsports, "Gentlemen start your engines."

As Grand Marshal, Affleck continues the tradition of high-profile celebrities, athletes and politicians that have participated in or attended the Daytona 500, NASCAR's annual season-opening event for its premier racing series. International superstar actor John Travolta served as Grand Marshal in the 2003 Daytona 500 to join a list of esteemed past Grand Marshals including Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and NFL Hall of Fame quarterbacks Terry Bradshaw and Jim Kelly.

Tickets for Speedweeks 2004 and the 46th annual Daytona 500 are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.

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Series NASCAR Cup