Saturday afternoon, NASCAR will kick off a unique two-day stretch of Cup Series action with the Pocono Organics 325. Racing's governing body will celebrate the event with two special guests, who will be on hand to promote Netflix's upcoming film, The Old Guard. Academy Award-winning actress Charlize Theron will partner with fellow actress KiKi Layne to serve as co-grand marshals.
Saturday's call will be the second time that Theron has held an honorary position for a NASCAR race. She previously waved the green flag to open the 2018 season at the Daytona 500. Now she and Layne will be telling drivers to start their engines as the Cup Series continues amid the COVID-19 pandemic. They will do so while promoting a film about immortal mercenaries.
Based on the acclaimed graphic novel by Greg Rucka and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love & Basketball, Beyond the Lights), The Old Guard is a gritty, action-packed film about a covert team of noble mercenaries with a mysterious inability to die. After being suddenly exposed, they’re forced to fight to keep their identity a secret just as an unexpected new member is discovered.
Layne made her big-screen debut in 2018 with If Beale Street Could Talk. This film drew rave reviews and won Best Feature at the Independent Spirit Awards in 2019. If Beale Street Could Talk also received nominations for Best Motion Picture at the Golden Globes and a Critics' Choice Award for Best Picture.
Speaking with NASCAR prior to the 2018 season, Theron explained that her love of motorsports runs deep despite being less knowledgeable about stock car racing at the time. She said that her father built go-karts when she was a child in South Africa and that she loved to get behind the wheel. She also watched a considerable amount of racing when she wasn't driving.
"My family loved car racing, so I was raised in a house where it was always on and a lot of the South African car racing and championships were always playing on TV," Theron said in 2018. "My dad was a mechanic and built cars in the backyard so that whole kind of car culture is something that I’m very familiar with." This love of car culture and racing recently became more evident when Theron served as an executive producer for the Netflix competition driving series Hyperdrive.
The Pocono Organics 325 takes place Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET. FOX and FOX Deportes will provide TV coverage while MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR provide the radio broadcast. Aric Almirola will try to take home the trophy after securing the pole position in a random draw to determine the starting order. Prior to doing so, Almirola will hear Theron and Layne tell him to start his engine.