North Carolina House Speaker Joe Hackney has been named Honorary Starter and Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor has been named Honorary Race Director for the 2010 Coca-Cola 600, which will be held at the famed Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 30, 2010. 

A spectacular pre-race show honoring generations of America’s Armed Forces will preceed the 51st running of NASCAR’s only 600-mile race. The Let Freedom Race pre-race show for the Coca-Cola 600 will include flyovers from vintage military aircraft, assault demonstrations by Fort Bragg soldiers, recognition on the stage for Medal of Honor recipients and the unfurling of a 11,250 square-foot American flag by family members of active-duty soldiers.

“We are honored to have such distinguished public servants and American leaders like Speaker Hackney and Congressman Cantor serve as race officials—and headline the nation’s largest tribute to America’s Armed Forces,” Coca-Cola Consolidated spokesman Lauren Steele said.

“Again this year, preceeding the race there will be a special tribute to our nation’s men and women in our Armed Forces,” Steele added.  “All of us at Coca-Cola join NASCAR fans across the nation in expressing our thanks and support for the members of the United States Armed Forces who are serving to protect our freedoms in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world.  It is only appropriate on Memorial Day weekend that we pay a special tribute to our troops in active duty, veterans and those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.”

As race officials, Hackney and Cantor will be honored at a pre-race event, attend the official drivers meeting, address the crowd of nearly 150,000 fans, participate in the pre-race spectacular and present the trophy in Victory Lane.  As Honorary Race Director,  Congressman Cantor will ride in the official pace car while Speaker Hackney, as Honorary Starter, will wave the green flag over the 43-car field to start the longest NASCAR race and one of the largest sporting events in the world.

Joe Hackney is in his 15th term in the North Carolina General Assembly and has served as Speaker of the House since January 2007.  He is the immediate past president of the National Conference of State Legislatures.  In addition to being a lawyer in Chapel Hill, Hackney is a cattle rancher.  He and his wife, Betsy, have two grown sons.

"The motorsports industry, particularly NASCAR, has been an integral part of our economy in North Carolina for decades and I am thrilled to have this opportunity to play a small part in one of the circuit's biggest events," Speaker Hackney said. "NASCAR  draws fans to our state, creates thousands of jobs and is an important part of our sports history in North Carolina. We are fortunate to have them here and I look forward to waving the flag at the Coca-Cola 600 over Memorial Day weekend."

Eric Cantor is in his 5th term in the US House of Representatives representing the Virginia’s Seventh District.  He serves as the Republican Whip, the second highest GOP position in the House, and is a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.  A native of Richmond, he and his wife, Diana, have three children.

“I am looking forward to being part of this great celebration honoring our fighting men and women of the armed forces, both at home and overseas,” Congressman Cantor said.  “Through their work and sacrifice around the globe, you see the best America has to offer and we should honor that every day, but especially this Memorial Day.”

Coca-Cola is the Official Sparkling Beverage of NASCAR and the sponsor of the Coca-Cola 600.  The Coca-Cola Racing Family includes top drivers Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Bobby Labonte, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, David Ragan, Elliott Sadler, Tony Stewart, and alumni drivers Kyle Petty, Michael Waltrip, Dale Jarrett and Ned Jarrett.

 Tickets for the Coca-Cola 600 can be obtained by calling the speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS or online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.