DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Charlize Theron isn’t coming to the Daytona 500 with a lack of racing familiarity.
The actress is the honorary starter for Sunday’s race and said she grew up in a family of racing fans. Her father tinkered around with cars on their family farm in South Africa and she grew up driving go-karts.
That go-kart experience came in handy, she said, when she was called to do preparations for the 2003 movie ‘The Italian Job’ with Mark Wahlberg, Edward Norton, Jason Statham and others.
“My dad used to build these go-karts when I was really young and I loved racing them,” Theron said Sunday morning at Daytona. “And I would beat the boys all the time. And when I ended up doing this film called Italian Job, we had to go, I guess, driving school where they threw us on this track for four weeks and it was just me and a bunch of boys and I outdrove all of them. So I’m kind of glad I was raised that way because it gave me an advantage that I think a lot of people don’t think I have. Because the director was like I think you should do two weeks extra. And I was like ‘than the boys? That’s a little sexist.’ So then I really went for it and I think one of the actors puked at one point. And like one went home. They were all just a bunch of pussies.”
She then paused for a moment and after the laughter in the room had subsided, she continued.
“It was Mark Wahlberg,” Theron said laughing. “He’s going to kill me.”
Theron is part of a host of celebrities serving as dignitaries for the Daytona 500. Former QB Peyton Manning is driving the pace car, former 3B Chipper Jones is the honorary race official and the recently retired Dale Earnhardt Jr. is serving as the grand marshal for the race.
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