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‘Speaker Summit’—Top State Leaders To Honor Troops At Coca-Cola 600, Nation’s Largest Memorial Day Celebration

Three top legislative leaders will be on hand for the nation’s largest Memorial Day celebration as they serve as race officials for the 2011 Coca-Cola 600. Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell will be Grand Marshal, South Carolina Speaker Bobby Harrell will be the Honorary Starter and North Carolina Speaker Thom Tillis will host his colleagues from neighboring states at the 52 nd running of NASCAR’s only 600-mile race at the famed Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 29.

Paying tribute to all veterans and active U.S. military servicemen and women, the spectacular show preceding the Coca-Cola 600 includes a military assault demonstration by Special Operations soldiers from Ft. Bragg, N.C., on-stage recognition of Medal of Honor recipients, the unfurling of a 11,250 square-foot American flag by family members of active-duty soldiers, and an inspiring flyover by military aircraft.

“We are honored to have such distinguished public servants—and three Speakers of the House—serve as race officials for the 2011 Coca-Cola 600,” said Lauren C. Steele, vice president, corporate affairs, Coca-Cola Consolidated. “It is great that these top legislative leaders will be on hand to pay tribute to America’s servicemen and women at the largest Memorial Day celebration in the nation.”

As race officials, the three Speakers will be honored at a pre-race event, attend the official drivers meeting, address the crowd of 140,000 fans, participate in the pre-race spectacular and present the trophy to the winning driver in Victory Lane. As Grand Marshal, Tenn. Speaker Harwell will ride in the official pace car, while S.C. Speaker Harrell will wave the green flag over the 43-car field to start NASCAR’s most challenging race. N.C. Speaker Tillis will direct the ‘Speaker Summit’ as host of the event.

Beth Harwell was elected as the first woman Speaker of the House in Tenn. history earlier this year. She is currently serving in her 12 th term in the Tenn. House and represents part of Davidson County. She received her bachelor of arts degree from David Lipscomb University, an M.S. degree from George Peabody College, and a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University. She has been an assistant professor of political science at Belmont University. She and her husband, Sam, have three children, Allie, Sam, and Tucker.

“I’m honored to be named Grand Marshal of the Coca-Cola 600, and it will be a privilege to take part in the ceremonies honoring our men and women in uniform at the largest Memorial Day celebration in our great nation,” said Speaker Harwell.

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