By DAVE SKRETTA
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Two-time Academy Award nominee Adam Driver, who will soon be starring as Enzo Ferrari in a biopic of the Italian automobile magnate, will serve as the honorary starter for the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.
Driver perhaps most famously played Kylo Ren in the three most recent “Star Wars” films, and he was nominated for Academy Awards for his work in “BlacKkKlansman" and “ Marriage Story.” Driver also has received four Primetime Emmy nominations for the comedy-drama “Girls” and his guest appearance on “Saturday Night Live” in 2020.
“Adam is going to experience one of the most exhilarating, powerful and exciting moments in all of sports as he stands atop the flag stand and waves the green flag to officially start the world’s greatest race,” Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles said in making the announcement Tuesday.
Driver grew up in Mishawaka in northern Indiana before serving in the armed forces with the Marines. He returned from duty and enrolled at the University of Indianapolis before auditioning for Julliard, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
His other film credits include “House of Gucci” by Ridley Scott, Steven Soderbergh's “Logan Lucky” and “Silence” by Martin Scorsese. He also appeared on and off Broadway in “Look Back in Anger and the revival of Lanford Wilson's "Burn This."
Given its traditional Memorial Day weekend placement, the Indy 500 is steeped in military pageantry. There are enlistment ceremonies, helicopters and other equipment on display, and the playing of “Taps” just before the call to start the engines.
Driver enlisted in the Marines shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and served in the 1st Marines as a mortarman for nearly three years. After an injury while mountain biking, he was medically discharged as a lance corporal and went on to co-found Arts in the Armed Forces, a nonprofit that stages theater and musical performance for members of the military.
“Race day is full of meaning for our drivers, our fans across the globe and most especially our active-duty military members and veterans,” Boles said. "Adam is not only a star recognized across the world but also a former U.S. Marine who will be a very fitting addition to ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.’”