DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Florida Governor Charlie Crist has been named Grand Marshal for the 51st annual Daytona 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event on Sunday, Feb. 15 at Daytona International Speedway, Track President Robin Braig announced.

“We’re honored to have Gov. Charlie Crist serve as the Grand Marshal for the Daytona 500,” Braig said. “By serving as Grand Marshal, Governor Crist will be joining a long list of high-profile guests who have helped kick off ‘The Great American Race.’ “

As Grand Marshal, Gov. Crist will deliver the four most famous words in motorsports -- “Gentlemen, start you engines” – to start NASCAR’s biggest, richest and most prestigious race. In addition, Governor Crist will attend the driver’s meeting prior to the waving of the green flag for the Daytona 500.

Gov. Crist, a native of St. Petersburg, graduated from Florida State University in 1978 and earned his law degree from the Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Alabama. In 1992, Governor Crist was elected to the state senate where he served for six years before being elected Commissioner of Education for the state of Florida in 2000.

In 2002, Gov. Crist was elected Florida’s Attorney General and on November 7, 2006, Governor Crist was elected as the 44th Governor of Florida.

“I am thrilled to serve as Grand Marshal at this year’s Daytona 500,” said Governor Crist. “As the 4th most recognized sporting event in the world, the race adds to the tremendous economic impact motorsports has on our state. In fact, Daytona International Speedway and the national headquarters of its parent company, International Speedway Corporation, contribute more than $2 billion dollars in annual economic impact to our economy.”

Tickets for DIRECTV Speedweeks 2009 and the 51st annual Daytona 500 are available online at or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.