Bronx Native Becomes First Woman and First Hispanic to Flag the Great American Race
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 18, 2015) – NASCAR announced today that long-time official Kim Lopez will be the chief starter for Sunday’s 57th running of the Daytona 500. She will become the first woman and first Hispanic to flag the Great American Race, which begins at 1 p.m. ET Sunday, live on FOX, Motor Racing Network Radio, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Lopez, 33, is in her 11th season with NASCAR and has flagged races for the past seven years in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. She also flagged two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races last year, but couldn’t attend the Daytona 500 following the birth of her daughter just three weeks before the race.
“I think this is awesome,” said Lopez, a native of Bronx, New York. “You have little girls who can now look up and say ‘I can do this someday, I can be this someday. If I put my mind to it and work hard, I can make it happen.’”
The chief starter plays an essential role during the race, displaying the eight flags that tell the best drivers in the world to start, slow down, move over or stop. It’s a role that Lopez won’t take for granted on Sunday when the field maneuvers beneath her at speeds of more than 200 mph.
Lopez also will have the honor of waving the checkered flag when the winner crosses the finish line and etches his or her name in NASCAR history.
“Kim will serve as chief starter, because she’s among the best in the world at what she does,” said Chad Little, NASCAR managing director, Technical Inspection and Officiating. “She has pursued her dreams in uncharted territory and we’re excited to see her dreams come true when she flags the Daytona 500.”
Tickets for the Daytona 500 are available online at DaytonaInternationalSpeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. Fans can follow @NASCAR on Twitter to engage in the #NASCAR conversation.
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc. (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for the No. 1 form of motorsports in the United States. NASCAR consists of three national series (the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series™, NASCAR XFINITY Series™, and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series™), four regional series, one local grassroots series and three international series. The International Motor Sports Association™ (IMSA®) governs the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship™, the premier U.S. sports car series. Based in Daytona Beach, Fla., with offices in eight cities across North America, NASCAR sanctions more than 1,200 races in more than 30 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico and Europe. For more information visit http://www.NASCAR.com and follow NASCAR atwww.Facebook.com/NASCAR and Twitter: @NASCAR.