NBA Legend Ben Wallace to drive pace car for the Consumers Energy 400
The start of the Consumers Energy 400 will showcase three individuals who know about the adrenaline of being in high energy moments. NBA Legend Ben Wallace will be the pace car driver; Tom Hunt, the Jackson County Teacher of the Year, will serve as the grand marshal; and Michigan hero Jason Potter will drop the green flag as the honorary starter.
Hunt will deliver the most famous words in motorsports, “Drivers, start your engines,” when the Consumers Energy 400 gets underway on Aug. 12 at Michigan International Speedway. Potter will give the field the green flag as they come roaring under him to start the race. Wallace will experience the thrill of leading the field to the green flag. The race begins at 2:30 p.m. and will be broadcast live on NBCSN.
“I am excited to drive the pace car for the Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan International Speedway,” Wallace said. “I have followed racing for a long time and have always wanted to attend a NASCAR race after hearing so much about it during my time with the Pistons. I am looking forward to experiencing all NASCAR has to offer.”
The White Hall, AL native starred in the NBA for 16 seasons with Washington, Orlando, Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland. Known for his defense and rebounding, Wallace won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award four times in nine seasons with the Detroit Pistons. Wallace made back-to-back NBA Finals appearances (2004 and 2005) and won the NBA Championship with Detroit in 2004.He retired from the NBA after his final season with the Pistons in 2012. The Pistons retired his No. 3 jersey in 2016.
“We are excited to have three individuals who have achieved so much success in their careers to start the Consumers Energy 400,” MIS President Rick Brenner said. “The fans eagerly wait for the start of the race as the engines roar. The Consumers Energy 400 race is the pinnacle of everything we have planned for our guests all week at MIS.”
“Consumers Energy is committed to the Michigan communities we serve. We are thrilled to recognize Tom Hunt and Jason Potter -- two Michigan residents who have given so much to their communities -- at this weekend’s world-class race that showcases our state for a national audience,” said Lauren Youngdahl Snyder, Consumers Energy’s vice president of customer experience.
Potter received a prestigious award from the American Gas Association for his actions in 2017. He saw a vehicle get clipped by another car traveling at a high rate of speed. It spun out of control and rolled over several times – finally coming to rest on the driver’s side door.
To block oncoming traffic, Potter parked in the slow lane on I-75, put his flashers on and ran toward the vehicle. The unconscious woman had her arm pinned between the vehicle’s roof and the ground.
Potter noticed the woman’s bleeding arm so he ripped his shirt and tied it as a tourniquet to stop the bleeding as another driver called 9-1-1. Potter was unable to get the bleeding to stop, so he used his hands to squeeze the artery under her armpit.
Potter calmed the woman down when she regained consciousness and held pressure on the woman’s artery until paramedics arrived.
Hunt was named by Jackson Magazine this year as Jackson County’s top teacher. Hunt has over 30 years of teaching experience and teaches chemistry at Jackson High School. Known for his rainbow tie-dye lab coats, Hunt has focused his teaching career on providing hands-on experiences for his students.
“The heart of my teaching is building students up and showing their potential,” Hunt has said. “To borrow a slogan from the Army, I want them to be all they can be. I love my students, and I find that if you grab them by the heart, the rest follows.”
Tickets start at $35 for the Consumers Energy 400 on Aug. 12. Fans can find the perfect campsite for their families and friends in any of the different campgrounds at the track starting at $170. Fans can purchase tickets and campsites at www.mispeedway.com or by calling 888-905-7223.
Children 12 and under are free on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, children 12 and under tickets start at $15. Children 12 and under can attend three days of NASCAR action for just $15, ensuring families a weekend of fun at affordable prices.
NASCAR’s most entertaining track is providing memorable experiences for fans during the Consumers Energy 400 in August. The entertainment starts early in the week and will go right through the checkered flag for the Consumers Energy 400. On Saturday, fans can enjoy a special post-race concert featuring The Cadillac Three and Logan Mize. The concert is free to anybody with an admission to the Consumers Energy 400 on Sunday.
In the campgrounds, fans can experience a Medium, play bingo, partake in a variety of fitness programs and watch a movie under the stars. The track will even have face painters, crafts, outdoor games, a magician and a DJ for the kids. The party goes late into the night with NightCap on The Club Z “ed” Party Deck.
The fan plaza will feature live music entertainment and strolling street performers for guests to enjoy as they prepare for the race. In addition, guests can enjoy a wood carving show.
Nestled in the lush Irish Hills of Southeastern Michigan, Michigan International Speedway is NASCAR’s fastest racetrack. It has been the love of NASCAR racing and the thrill of a great time for race fans and drivers alike for 50 years.