School of Filmmaking alumnus Danny McBride named honorary pace car driver for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600

Actor, writer and producer Danny McBride, a graduate of the School of Filmmaking at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA), will be the honorary pace car driver for Sunday’s 64th running of the Coca-Cola 600 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS). He will lead the field to the green flag to start the race.

“Fast cars and all the Coca-Cola a man can drink? How could I say no,” McBride told the CMS. “I’m so honored and excited to be a part of the action.”

In addition, Kyle Petty, a member of the UNCSA Board of Trustees, will be a grand marshal for the race, along with fellow legendary Coca-Cola racing family drivers Jeff Burton, Dale Jarrett and Bobby Labonte.

Danny McBride / Photo: IMDB

Danny McBride / Photo: IMDB

Known for his comedic acting talents in films such as “Pineapple Express,” “Your Highness” and “This is the End,” McBride graduated from the UNCSA School of Filmmaking with a B.F.A. in 1999. His concentration was directing.

At the School of the Arts... we constantly fed each other’s creativity and it’s just something that we have kind of maintained," McBride told UNCSA in 2018. Also, the school is located in Winston-Salem, far away from New York and Los Angeles, and that made us feel like underdogs. Keeping camaraderie was a tool as we kind of ventured into this bigger world.

McBride has found a niche as a creator of and actor in popular HBO TV series including “Eastbound and Down,” “Vice Principals” and “The Righteous Gemstones,” on which he has worked with fellow UNCSA alumni such as David Gordon Green. They recently concluded the “Halloween” trilogy and are completing “The Exorcist” reboot.

This is not the first time McBride has brushed NASCAR fame. He was featured in a Mountain Dew commercial with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2017. Most recently, he was seen as “Downy McBride” in a Super Bowl 2023 commercial for Downy Unstoppables.

NASCAR fans on Facebook were delighted by the news about McBride. One said: “Oh, this could go horribly wrong” while another said, “He’s a gemstone for sure!”

Kyle Petty, a former NASCAR driver turned racing analyst, has become one of the most popular personalities in all of sports. As a member of one of NASCAR’s pioneer families, Petty is as much a product of racing as he is of his famous father, Richard Petty – “The King,” and grandfather, Lee Petty. While his name will forever connect him to NASCAR, Petty has made significant strides outside of racing in the worlds of music and philanthropy. 

Kyle Petty, UNCSA Board of Trustees

Kyle Petty, UNCSA Board of Trustees

Petty received his first guitar at age 12 from a traveling preacher at the racetrack. Soon after, he began writing his own music. In the 1980s, Petty took to the stage for a brief period after signing with RCA Records. He opened up for acts such as Randy Travis, The Oak Ridge Boys and Hank Williams Jr., and performed his original song “Hard Times” at the legendary Grand Ole Opry in June 2021. Today, Petty is represented by Dolphus Ramseur of Ramseur Records and frequently performs his original music in intimate shows across North Carolina and surrounding states.

The Coca-Cola 600 weekend kicks off today (Friday, May 26) with the ARCA Menards Series’ General Tire 150 and the CRAFTSMAN Truck Series N.C. Education Lottery 200, as well as a performance by AC/DC tribute band Dirty Deeds. 

On Saturday, Xfinity Series drivers will battle for supremacy in the Alsco Uniforms 300 and the NASCAR Cup Series will take the track for the first time to set the field for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600. Country music superstar Jake Owen will perform.

The party moves to the infield on Sunday as the legendary Doobie Brothers with Michael McDonald are scheduled to perform a pre-race concert before the patriotic salute to the U.S. Armed Services and the green flag for the Coca-Cola 600.

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May 26, 2023