In an interview with NASCAR.com, Charlize – who is the race’s honourary starter – talked about how she fell in love with car racing at an early age, sharing stories of her childhood in SA.
“My family loved car racing, so I was raised in a house where it was always on and a lot of the South African car racing and championships were always playing on TV,” she told Nascar.com.
“My dad was a mechanic and built cars in the backyard so that whole kind of car culture is something that I’m very familiar with,” she added.
Later at a press conference before the day’s proceedings the 42-year-old reportedly joked about her father being a “crazy scientist” because he was always making things in the backyard.
According to Daily Mail Charlize told the audience: “I loved it. … My dad used to build these little go-karts when I was really young and I loved racing them. And I would beat the boys all the time.”
Charlize’s pick for the season-opening was Danica Patrick – who made the Daytona 500 her final NASCAR race – and joked that she would take up car racing, too.
“To have her be a part of this, as a woman, that just seems to be incredible.
“For me to be able to witness her last race, that feels pretty special to me, too. The girl in me in obviously secretly cheering for her. Even my kids were just really impressed that a girl is racing cars today, too. I think that’s such a good thing and we need more of that and hopefully we’ll have more of that … it only makes it better and richer, you know?”
Unfortunately the day was a bust for Danica. She was collected in an accident and finished 35th.