Brendan Hunt, the actor who portrays the football-turned-soccer assistant coach on Ted Lasso, gets a high honor this Sunday when NASCAR comes to Austin.
Hunt will serve as the grand marshal for Sunday’s EchoPark Automotive NASCAR Cup Series race at Circuit of the Americas outside Austin.
Hunt isn’t the only celebrity for the NASCAR race that returns to Austin for the third straight year.
Country superstar Darius Rucker, the three-time Grammy Award winner, will serve as Honorary Starter. He’ll also give a concert before the start of Sunday’s race. Adrianne Palick, who lived in Austin when she filmed the TV show Friday Night Lights, is the driver of the honorary pace car.
Meanwhile, actor Jaime Camil, a co-star on Apple TV+ hit Schmigadoon!, will sing the national anthem. He’s a huge NASCAR fan and friends with driver Daniel Suarez. He was at a NASCAR event at Fontana earlier this year.
But Hunt might have the coolest honor in the pre-race activities. He gets to say “Drivers, start your engines.”
Ross Chastain won last year’s NASCAR race at COTA. It also was his first victory competing for Trackhouse Racing. It was the first time that Chastain got to celebrate a win on a NASCAR track by smashing a watermelon. He’s an eighth-generation watermelon farmer, so the celebration is a nod to the family business back in Florida.
Chastain will do a photo shoot with watermelons, Friday, at COTA. Specifically, he’ll be tossing melons from the track’s 251-foot observation tower.
“Oh, yes, they are part of my normal diet,” Chastain said of the melons. “And after a win, I find the biggest piece left on the ground, pick it up and take a big bite. I have eaten some grass, spit out a little piece of rock from the asphalt. Watermelon never tasted sweeter than after we win.
Meanwhile, we’re hoping that Brendan Hunt won’t find COTA or NASCAR a strange sight. But Austin should feel familiar. Hunt plays Coach Beard on Ted Lasso. And he’s the right-hand coach for Ted Lassi as the two American college football coaches try to handle AFC Richmond in the Premier League. Besides, COTA is the traditional home of Formula One’s U.S. Grand Prix. And F1 has a British vibe.
A number of the stars of the show are making appearances this week in the United States to promote Ted Lasso. The show’s season three premiered last Wednesday on Apple TV+. Earlier this week, the stars dropped by the White House.