An Olympic champion has been selected to give the command to start engines for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline comes to Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois on August 26. Jackie Joyner-Kersee, considered to be one of the greatest athletes of all time, will serve as the grand marshal for the Verizon IndyCar Series event.
“I am humble,” said Joyner-Kersee, who is a native of East St. Louis, Illinois. “I do not take this honor for granted to be the IndyCar race’s grand marshal at Gateway Motorsports Park. Very few people are asked to give the command and I am grateful to be one of the few. Thank you!”
Track-and-field star Joyner-Kersee has won three Olympic gold medals, as well as one silver and two bronze. She was the first American to win gold for the long jump and the first woman to earn more than 7,000 points in the seven-event heptathlon, making her the most decorated female athlete in Olympic track and field history.
As a teen, she won the National Junior Pentathlon championships for consecutive years and received widespread honors in high school in various sports, including track, basketball and volleyball. During her junior year, she set the Illinois high school long jump record for women, with a 6.68-meter jump. Joyner-Kersee attended the University of California, Los Angeles on a full scholarship and continued to gain fame on both the court and field. In 1981, at the age of 19, she began to focus on training for the Olympics, specifically for the heptathlon — an Olympic track-and-field competition comprised of seven separate events, including the 200-meter run, 800-meter run and 100-meter hurdles. She graduated from UCLA in 1985.
Joyner-Kersee won a silver medal in the heptathlon at the 1984 Summer Olympics, as well as gold and bronze medals in the long jump in 1988 and 1992, respectively, and is currently the heptathlon world record-holder.
Following her retirement from competition, she founded the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Youth Center Foundation. The mission of the foundation is to instill youth in the a Greater East St. Louis area with the dream, drive and determination necessary to succeed in academics, athletics and leadership. “Winners In Life.”
Chuck Wallis, Vice President of the Bommarito Automotive Group, will serve as honorary starter and will wave the opening green flag.
Friday, August 25 — Coors Light Pole Night Showdown
1 p.m. — Parking lots open.
2 p.m. — Spectator gates, paddock and Gateway Kartplex open.
4-5 p.m. — First Verizon IndyCar Series practice.
5:15-6 p.m. — Pro Mazda series practice.
6:30 p.m. — Verizon IndyCar Series Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline qualifying.
7:30-11 p.m. — Music on Coors Light Main Stage.
7:45-8:30 p.m. — Indy Lights series practice.
9-10 p.m. — Verizon IndyCar Series Coors Light Happy Hour final practice.
11 p.m. — Gateway Kartplex closed.
Saturday, August 26 – Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline
10 a.m. — Spectator parking lots open.
11 a.m. — Spectator gates and Gateway Kartplex open.
1-1:30 p.m. — Pro Mazda Championship Presented By Cooper Tires qualifying.
1:45 p.m. — Indy Lights Presented By Cooper Tires qualifying.
3 p.m. — IndyCar paddock open.
3:30-4:30 p.m. — Verizon IndyCar Series driver autograph session in IndyCar Fan Village.
4:55 p.m. — Pro Mazda Championship Presented By Cooper Tires race.
6 p.m. — Indy Lights Presented By Cooper Tires race.
7:15 p.m. — Verizon IndyCar Series pit stop competition.
8 p.m. — Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline.
10:30 p.m. (time approximate) — Victory lane celebration.
11:55 p.m. — Gateway Kartplex closed.