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Michael Rooker named honorary pace car driver at Richmond

Richmond Raceway announces actor Michael Rooker as the Honorary Pace Car Driver for the TOYOTA OWNERS 400 on Saturday, April 21. The American actor known to motorsports fans for his role as Rowdy Burns in Days of Thunder will lead the field to green in the Official Toyota Camry Pace Car for the spring Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race "under the lights."

"I am grateful for the chance to get behind the wheel to lead NASCAR's best to the green flag at America's Premier Short Track," said Rooker. "As someone who was raised in NASCAR country, I've always appreciated fans asking about my portrayal of Rowdy Burns in 'Days of Thunder'. As I return to Richmond Raceway, I can unequivocally state that I agree with Robert Duvall's character Harry Hogge in the film that said, 'rubbin, son, is racin'."

Rooker is an American actor best known for his turn as the blue-skinned alien Yondu Udonta in the top grossing Marvel films Guardians of the Galaxy, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and also as the character fans loved to hate on AMC's worldwide hit television show The Walking Dead, Merle Dixon.

"Michael Rooker has had a successful acting career, but his turn as Rowdy Burns in 'Days of Thunder' is one of the most memorable on-screen depictions of motorsports on the big screen," said Richmond President Dennis Bickmeier. "With the actor who played Rowdy Burns driving the Official Toyota Camry Pace Car, I can only imagine how the Action Track will come to life 'under the lights' for the TOYOTA OWNERS 400."

Rooker has thrilled fans for decades with complex portrayals of characters audiences can't help but cheer on despite their dark personas. He made his film debut in 1986 playing the title role in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. He has since appeared in numerous films including Mississippi Burning, Sea of Love, Days of Thunder, JFK, Cliffhanger, Tombstone, Mallrats, Rosewood, The 6th Day, and Jumper. Rooker also has a prolific relationship with writer/director James Gunn, appearing in Gunn-helmed productions Slither, Super, The Belko Experiment and Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy franchise.

He has guest starred on numerous TV shows including Stargate SG-1, CSI: Miami, Las Vegas, JAG, Numb3rs, Law & Order, Chuck, Criminal Minds, Psych, Burn Notice, and Archer. He added his voice talents to Activision's video game The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct. Rooker's voice-over work in video games has also included Mike Harper, the lead character in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, and the villain Vikke in Lollipop Chainsaw.

Rooker, who has eight brothers and sisters, was born in Jasper, Alabama and studied at the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago, where he moved with his mother and siblings at the age of thirteen.

--- Richmond Raceway ---