DAYTONA, FL. (Bleacher Report) — Oscar-nominated actor and Palo Alto native James Franco was named Friday as the grand marshal for NASCAR’s renowned Daytona 500 auto race.

Franco will utter the famous phrase, “Drivers, start your engines!” in the 55th running of the race on Feb. 24, and will also participate in pre-race ceremonies and ride in one of the grand marshal cars during the pace laps prior to the green flag of the 200-lap, 500-mile race.

Franco is making this special appearance rather appropriately, as he slated to be the title character in his upcoming film Oz the Great and Powerful.

The Sam Raimi-directed Disney feature sports a talented cast and serves as a prequel to the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz, which was adapted from a novel by L. Frank Baum of the same name.

READ MORE about Franco’s role as grand marshal from Bleacher Report…

(Copyright 2013 CBS San Francisco. All rights reserved.)

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