Friday, July 20, 2012

Ron Howard Tabbed For Pace Car Duty at Indy

Two-time Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard will drive the Pace Car at the Crown Royal Presents the Curtiss Shaver 400 at the Brickyard powered by on Sunday, July 29, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway..

Howard has become an entertainment legend as a director, producer and actor. He has directed worldwide blockbusters including "A Beautiful Mind," "Angels & Demons," "Apollo 13," "Backdraft," "Cinderella Man," "Cocoon," "Parenthood," "Splash," "The Da Vinci Code" and "Willow.” He received Oscars for Best Director and Best Picture in 2001 for "A Beautiful Mind" and was nominated for Best Director in 2008 for "Frost/Nixon."

Howard will be making his first visit to the historic speedway, and will shadow four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon and his No. 24 Drive to End Hunger team.

Howard's upcoming epic-action drama, "Rush" has a racing theme. It stars Chris Hemsworth ("The Avengers") as the charismatic English Formula One star James Hunt and Daniel Brühl ("Inglourious Basterds") as Austrian Niki Lauda, whose clashes on the Grand Prix racetrack epitomized a contrast in style that extended to their private lives. "Rush" is currently in postproduction and will be released in 2013.

"It's a great honor to welcome a true legend, Ron Howard, to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race," said Jeff Belskus, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation president and chief executive officer. "Ron has become immersed in motorsports' culture and history through the filming of 'Rush,' so he's an ideal person to pace the field for one of NASCAR's biggest races at 'The Greatest Race Course in the World.'"

The Pace Car for the 19th annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at IMS will be announced soon.

"I've been a longtime admirer of Jeff's work both on and off the track," Howard said. "Not only is he a stellar driver, but his commitment to ending older hunger in America shows his passion for helping others. I'm honored to drive the Pace Car at IMS, and I thank NASCAR for giving me this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Howard made his screen acting debut when he was 18 months old in the 1956 movie "Frontier Woman," which led to a role for Howard at the age of 2 in a stage production of "The Seven-Year Itch." He was introduced to America on a much grander scale at age 6 when in 1960 he was cast in the role of Opie Taylor on "The Andy Griffith Show," which led to major motion-picture appearances in the "The Music Man" in 1962 and "The Courtship of Eddie's Father" in 1963. His role in the 1973 George Lucas film, "American Graffiti," led him to the leading role of Richie Cunningham in the hit television sitcom "Happy Days" from 1974-84.

Photo Credits: AP Photo/Austin Film Festival, Jack Plunkett

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