Ken Griffey Jr. to lead Indianapolis 500 field in Corvette pace car

May 20, 2024, 3:40 PM

Ken Griffey Jr. HBCU...

Ken Griffey Jr. embraces a member of the Swingman HBCU coaching staff on July 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Caean Couto)

(AP Photo/Caean Couto)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Hall of Fame outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. will drive the pace car for the 108th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.

A surprising Mariners player gets MLB Network spotlight for eye-opening stats

Griffey has attended “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” in his second career as a photographer, but now his job will be much more visible. He’ll be behind the wheel of the 2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray that brings the field of 33 cars — led by record-setting pole sitter Scott McLaughlin — to the green flag at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“Driving the Pace Car and leading the field to start the Indy 500 is one of the coolest experiences,” Griffey said Monday. “I came to the track a few years ago as a photographer and look forward to seeing the race from a different perspective.”

The pace car driver has been a coveted job among athletes, actors and other celebrities since the 1970s, when actor James Garner and singer Marty Robbins handled it. Others that have driven the car include Jay Leno, Morgan Freeman and Patrick Dempsey and, in more recent years, NBA players Victor Oladipo and Tyrese Haliburton.

Griffey was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2016 after a 22-year big league career spent mostly with the Seattle Mariners and Cincinnati Reds. He was a 13-time All-Star and hit 630 home runs, which still ranks seventh on the career list. He also was one of the best defensive players in the game, winning the Gold Glove award 10 times.

He will join a celebrity cast at the Indianapolis 500 that includes national anthem singer Jordin Sparks and Phillip Phillips, who will perform “God Bless America.” The speedway also plans to announce its honorary starters on Tuesday.

“Every baseball fan knows Ken Griffey Jr.,” Indianapolis Motor Speedway president J. Douglas Boles said. “Two legends will come together as Griffey hops into the Corvette E-Ray to lead the field at the Racing Capital of the World.”

Does this explain why Mariners’ Julio Rodríguez isn’t hitting for power?

Mariners Roof Report

Brought to you by
High 83° | Low 55°
Mariners are on the road.
Mariners at Marlins today at 4:10pm

Seattle Mariners

Seattle Mariners trade target...

Zac Hereth

Morosi: The familiar Mariners trade partner to keep an eye on

MLB insider Jon Morosi explains why the Tampa Bay Rays fit as a trade partner for the Seattle Mariners on Seattle Sports' Wyman and Bob.

5 minutes ago

Seattle Mariners...

Zac Hereth

Where Mariners should be comfortable trading prospects from

Senior MLB writer Will Sammon from The Athletic discusses the Seattle Mariners and the upcoming trade deadline on Seattle Sports.

15 hours ago

Texas Rangers OF Adolis Garcia...

The Associated Press

AL West Check-In: Rangers struggling with key OF in extended slump

With outfielder Adolis García struggling at the plate, the Texas Rangers are having trouble trying to win ballgames.

16 hours ago

Seattle Mariners 2023 MLB Draft...

Zac Hereth

ESPN insider breaks down projected Mariners first-round pick

ESPN draft analyst Kiley McDaniel breaks down his Seattle Mariners first-round draft pick projection, East Carolina pitcher Trey Yesavage.

19 hours ago

Seattle Mariners Dylan Moore...

Brent Stecker

Mariners Breakdown: Where things stand after series loss in Cleveland

The Seattle Mariners dropped two of three to Cleveland in a battle of first-place teams. Where do they stand now? A detailed look here.

21 hours ago

Seattle Mariners Luis Castillo Guardians 2024...

Brian Dulik

Guardians tag Castillo as Mariners fall 6-3 in rubber match

Luis Castillo gave up five runs and the Seattle Mariners lost 6-3 to the Cleveland Guardians in a series rubber match of first-place teams.

21 hours ago

Ken Griffey Jr. to lead Indianapolis 500 field in Corvette pace car