LeBron James named honorary starter for 24 Hours of Le Mans

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James reacts after being fouled in the second half of Game 4 of the NBA basketball Western Conference

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James reacts after being fouled in the second half of Game 4 of the NBA basketball Western Conference Final series against the Denver Nuggets Monday, May 22, 2023, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

LE MANS, France (AP) — NBA superstar LeBron James has been named the official starter for the centenary 24 Hours of Le Mans, which this year is welcoming American teams to the world’s most prestigious endurance race.

The NBA’s all-time leading scorer said he’s honored to be included in the celebration of 100 years at Le Mans.

“There’s nothing like seeing and experiencing sports at their highest level,” James said in a statement. “It’s an honor for me to be part of this historic moment in motorsport and help celebrate the centenary of one of the biggest sporting events in the world.

“I look forward to kicking off this iconic race and watching its world-class drivers compete on Le Mans’ global stage.”

The twice-round-the-clock race begins Saturday.

The role of honorary starter has since 1949 typically been given to a celebrity. Previous honorary starters include Rafael Nadal, Brad Pitt and Steve McQueen.

Track action at Le Mans resumes Wednesday and the 62-car field this year includes teams from the top class in the United States-based IMSA sports car series. The teams entered are owned by Roger Penske, Chip Ganassi and Action Express Racing, which is supported by NASCAR chairman Jim France.

NASCAR, which owns IMSA, is also heavily represented at the race with its new Next Gen car racing as part of the “Garage 56” project designed to showcase technology. The car is a Chevrolet fielded by Hendrick Motorsports and driven by seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson, 2009 Formula One champion Jenson Button and Mike Rockenfeller, who was part of the 2010 overall winning team at Le Mans.

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