University of Southern California (USC) head football coach Clay Helton will be giving the command “Drivers, start your engines,” as part of his duties as Grand Marshal for the 43rd Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, officials announced.
Helton, who is 16-7 as the Trojans’ head coach, will attend the Verizon IndyCar Series Driver’s meeting, visit the race teams in their paddocks, take a pre-race hot lap around the track with legendary driver Mario Andretti, greet drivers as they are introduced before the race and participate in the parade and pace laps prior to the start of Sunday’s race.
“I am honored and thrilled to serve as Grand Marshal of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, representing our football team and the Trojan family,” Helton said in a statement. “It will be exciting to get an up-close look at the incredibly skilled drivers and their support teams, and the cars they drive, as well as seeing all that goes into making the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach such an iconic sporting event.”
In 2016, Helton coached the Trojans to a 10-3 season, which included wins over No. 4 Washington, No. 5 Penn State and No. 21 Colorado. That same year he was a finalist for Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award and won the Football Writers First Year Co-Coach of the Year honors.
He joined USC coaching staff in 2010 as a quarterback coach, was named passing game coordinator in 2012, offensive coordinator in 2013 and head coach in 2015, dropping the interim head coach title he held for the final seven games of USC’s season.
The Trojans, defending Rose Bowl champions, will return highly ranked for the 2017 season.
The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach runs Friday, April 7 to Sunday, April 9. Tickets range in price and can be purchased here.
Photo courtesy of TGPLB.