The Gospel Music Association’s 2017 Dove Award winners for Southern Gospel Vocal Group of the year, the Gaither Vocal Band, will perform the National Anthem as part of the prerace festivities at Martinsville Speedway before Sunday’s First Data 500.
Founded by legendary gospel songwriter and producer, Bill Gaither, this Grammy-winning vocal group has performed in the world’s most prestigious venues, including the Sydney Opera House, The Kennedy Center, and Carnegie Hall, however the trip to Martinsville Speedway will mark a first four the group.
"This is the first opportunity that the Gaither Vocal Band has had to sing at a NASCAR event and we cannot contain our excitement,” Bill Gaither said. “It will be major for us. Thanks to Clay Campbell and Martinsville Speedway for the invitation. We are looking forward to the 29th"
In addition to the Gaither Vocal Group, Medal of Honor Recipient Col. Jack Jacobs will serve as the Honorary Starter and will wave the Green Flag to start the race. Jacobs was awarded the military’s highest honor for actions in Vietnam.
“The prerace ceremonies are such an important part of our race and we are really excited to have the Gaither Vocal Group and Col. Jacobs play such large roles,” Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell said. “First Data is a company that puts our nation and our military first and we are excited to have a prerace that will make our fans proud to be Americans.”
Frank Bisignano, the Chairman and CEO of First Data, will serve as the Grand Marshal for the First Data 500 and will give the command to fire the engines, while the Virginia Military Institute Color Guard will present the nations colors.
The Bandit Flight Team will provide a flyover for both Saturday’s Texas Roadhouse 200 presented by Alpha Energy Solutions and Sunday’s First Data 500.
As announced previously, Amy Earnhardt, the wife of Dale Earnhardt Jr., will serve as the Honorary Pace Car driver.
The First Data 500 is the first race in the Round of 8 of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. If the winning driver is in the Playoffs, he or she would be the first to clinch a spot in the Championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Last fall, Johnson won his ninth grandfather clock, on the way to winning his record-tying seventh NASCAR Cup Series championship.
As part of the on-site entertainment during First Data 500 weekend Martinsville Speedway will host FanFest on Saturday, October 28 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., featuring eight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers. FanFest is a free event giving fans an up-close look at some of the sport’s biggest stars, off the track. There will be special accommodations made for youth in attendance at the event so that they may experience FanFest front and center.
Tickets for the First Data 500 start at $55 and are on sale now. Youth tickets are available starting at $15, with teen pricing available starting at $25. Family four packs start at $110 and military specials are available, as well. Tickets may be purchased by calling 877.RACE.TIX or online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.