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  • Gold Medalist Carly Patterson to serve as Honorary Starter
  • Heroic Fort Worth Police Officer Matt Pearce named Grand Marshall

FORT WORTH, Texas (June 7, 2016) –  A Metroplex Olympic Gold Medalist and a heroic Fort Worth police officer highlight the honorary positions for this Saturday’s Verizon IndyCar Series Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m., TV: NBCSN / Radio: 95.9 The Ranch (Local) / IMS Radio Network / Sirius Channel 212, XM Channel 209).

Carly Patterson, who won the All-Around Gymnastics Olympic Gold Medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, will serve as the honorary starter for Saturday night's Firestone 600 Verizon IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. 

Patterson will have the honor of waving the green flag to start the ninth race of the Verizon IndyCar Series season and 28th Indy-car race held at Texas Motor Speedway that dates to the venue's opening in 1997.

“I cannot wait to see some amazing racing at the Firestone 600 IndyCar series race at Texas Motor Speedway,” the Texas native said. “It is truly an honor to be able to wave the green flag!”

At the 2004 Summer Olympics, Patterson became the first American woman in 20 years to win the gold medal in the All-Around since Mary Lou Retton in 1984.

Patterson made her debut at the senior international elite level by winning back-to-back American Cup titles in 2003 and 2004, as well as the title of 2004 U.S. Co-National Champion. She was also a part of the 2003 World Championships team where she won a silver medal in the all-around and helped lead the U.S. to their first ever World Championship team gold medal.

A year later, Carly achieved her ultimate goal by representing her county at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. She returned from Athens with three medals. The U.S. women won silver in the team competition – the first medal for the U.S. women in eight years - as well as the second highest finish for the Americans in a fully attended Olympic Games. Carly also earned a silver medal on her specialty, the beam, before becoming the 2004 Olympic All-Around Champion.

Since her Olympic title, she has appeared on many TV shows, adorned the front of a Wheaties box and made an appearance in the gymnastics movie – Stick It. Carly was recognized by Glamour Magazine at the 2004 "Women Of The Year” Awards and was honored as the March of Dimes’ “Sportswoman of the Year.”  In 2009, she was elected into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame. 

An accomplished musician, Carly has released two singles as well as an album. She has competed on Fox’s primetime reality show produced by Simon Cowell, Celebrity Duets. Her hit song "Here I Am" was featured on the ABC Family series Make It or Break It

She and her husband, Mark live in North Texas.

Fort Worth Police Officer Matt Pearce will provide the most famous words in motorsports in his role of Grand Marshall for the Firestone 600. 

Pearce was shot five times on March 15 as he helped serve a warrant. After being saved by his fellow officers, he was released from the hospital nearly two months later.

Pearce, who is currently continuing his rehab at home, is looking forward to returning to work as a tactical medical officer to provide the kind of help that saved his life when he was wounded in March. He has also served for many years on the Fort Worth Police Department’s weekend race detail at Texas Motor Speedway.

He and his wife, Laura, have two daughters aged three and one. He has been with the Fort Worth Police Department since 2009.

About the author

The Texas Motor Speedway Media Relations Department is located on the 6th floor of The Speedway Club outside of Turn 1 of the speedway. 

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