As if having 40 of the world’s greatest stock-car drivers on hand wasn’t enough star power for one event, Charlotte Motor Speedway will welcome some other celebrities for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600. Among them: Carolina Panthers All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey, legendary late-night talk show host and avid car collector Jay Leno and Leno’s familiar longtime late-night sidekick, guitarist Kevin Eubanks. McCaffrey will serve as honorary pace-car driver for the 600-mile race while Leno and Eubanks will serve as co-grand marshals, giving the command for drivers to start their engines.
Together for 15 years on The Tonight Show, which Leno walked away from for the second and final time in 2014, Leno and Eubanks are longtime friends and television stars who are now preparing to launch a new network comedy program, “You Bet Your Life” on FOX this fall. FOX Sports, of course, will bring flag-to-flag TV coverage of Sunday’s race. McCaffrey is a hometown hero, who since being drafted by the Panthers of the National Football League in 2017 has become one of the most familiar faces around Charlotte and the surrounding areas.
Having Leno, McCaffrey and Eubanks as visible participants in pre-race ceremonies will undoubtedly cause some fans to tune in early just to watch them carry out their responsibilities. In fact, the collective star power of Leno, McCaffrey and Eubanks might even be enough for some fans who wouldn’t otherwise attend to actually buy race tickets. Regardless, having such big names in the house won’t do anything but help the sport in its continuous efforts to reach as many people as possible.