By: Caroline Ashcraft, University of Miami

MIAMI – A championship race calls for championship-caliber dignitaries, and that’s exactly what the 2015 Ford EcoBoost 300 XFINITY Series championship race will have.  World Cup Champion and two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Carli Lloyd will serve as the Grand Marshal for the race, which will take place on Saturday, November 21 at 2:45 p.m. at Homestead-Miami Speedway.  As Grand Marshal, Lloyd will give the command for drivers to “start their engines.”  In addition, as a guest of XFINITY, Lloyd will participate in various activities around the track and with the fans, including a visit to the XFINITY Zone to host a Championship Rally before the race.

Andy Miyares, a Special Olympics swimmer from Miami, will be the Honorary Starter for the race, while actress/singer Elizabeth Elias, also a native Miamian, has been tabbed to perform the national anthem.

“Thanks to XFINITY, having someone with Carli Lloyd’s accolades is a perfect fit for what Ford Championship Weekend is all about,” said Homestead-Miami Speedway president Matthew Becherer.  “We are also honored to have Andy and Elizabeth as integral parts of our pre-race festivities.  The things they have been able to accomplish are tremendous, and they are outstanding ambassadors in their respective fields and also for the Miami area.”

Lloyd, who currently plays for the Houston Dash of the National Women’s Soccer League, won the coveted Golden Ball Trophy as the best player of the 2015 Women’s World Cup tournament when she notched six goals and one assist in leading the U.S. to the World Cup title.  A member of the U.S. Women’s national team since 2005, Lloyd scored three goals in the team’s 5-2 win over Japan in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup final.    She was also part of the U.S. Olympic gold medal-winning teams in 2008 (Beijing) and 2012 (London), where she scored the deciding goal in the Gold Medal games on both occasions.  Overall, she has played in more than 200 matches for the U.S. national team and has scored more than 70 goals. 

Miyares, 32, who grew up in Kendall, was born with Down syndrome.  He has competed in two Special Olympics World Games and is the holder of numerous world records.  He won both silver and bronze medals in the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles.  He is a registered United States Swimming Coach, teaching younger special needs children how to swim.

Elizabeth Elias, called Liz by her many fans, is an actress and recording artist best known for her role of Mia Black in the Nickelodeon’s hit series, “Every Witch Way.”  Currently working on her music with Atlantic Records, Elizabeth is set to launch her first single at the beginning of the New Year.  Her musical style is an integration of today’s pop and Latin pop music genres. You can follow Liz on all her Social Media.

Tickets are still available for the Ford EcoBoost 300, as well as the Ford EcoBoost 200 Camping World Truck Series race on Friday.  For tickets, call 305-230-5255 or visit www.homesteadmaimispeedway.com.