Grand marshal and honorary starter named for Consumers Energy 400

Two individuals who have had an impact in 2019 on their community will start the Consumers Energy 400 on Aug. 11. The Jackson County Teacher of the Year, Carmel McDonald, will serve as the grand marshal while Michigan hero Patrick Huffman will drop the green flag as the honorary starter. 

”We can think of no one better to honor at the Consumers Energy 400 than two people who are making a difference here in Michigan,” said Brian Rich, Consumers Energy’s senior vice president for customer experience. “Consumers Energy is excited to highlight these individuals and to share our commitment to people, the planet and Michigan’s prosperity by sponsoring this race.”

The most famous words in motorsports, “Drivers, start your engines,” will be delivered by McDonald when the Consumers Energy 400 gets underway on Aug. 11. Huffman will wave the green flag as the cars come roaring under him to start the race. 

“We are excited to have two individuals who have made a huge impact on the local community to serve as honorary officials for the Consumers Energy 400,” MIS President Rick Brenner said. “This is the perfect way to recognize those that go above and beyond the call of duty in the local area.”

The Paragon Charter Academy teacher is vital to the success of her middle school students. McDonald earned the top grade in Jackson Magazine’s Top Teacher Award Issue. She knew she wanted to be a teacher since she had one very special teacher during her sixth and seventh grade years. McDonald is from British Columbia, Canada and moved to Jackson, Mich. 13 years ago. 

Huffman, who works at Consumers Energy’s Karn Generating Plant near Bay City, was heading to work when he saw a house on fire. As he watched the fire continue to spread he noticed lights on inside the house. That’s when he realized he had to do something. 

“I parked in a neighbor’s driveway and looked for downed wires; once I realized the scene was safe I knocked on the front door and a man jumped up from the couch,” Huffman said. “It was late at night so it took a little convincing to get him to trust me and evacuate.” 

When the State Police arrived to the scene, Huffman directed them to the homeowner and then headed to work at Karn. Later that evening the police officer called Huffman to inform him he had saved the homeowner’s life. If it was not for Huffman, the homeowner would likely not have woken up. 

Huffman credits his company training and work experience for feeling prepared to jump in and potentially save a life. 

“My wire guard and meter reading training allowed me to assess the situation and verify my safety,” said Huffman. “My experiences from Karn allowed me to think quickly through a stressful situation and make sound judgments. If I didn’t have the training and experience that I’ve received from Consumers Energy, I probably would have been watching from the parking lot with the rest of the crowd.”

NASCAR’s Most Entertaining Track continues to add entertainment to the campgrounds, fan plaza, pre-race and stage breaks to make the race week a cannot miss event. The nonstop entertainment at Michigan International Speedway during the Consumers Energy 400 race week provides something for every guest. The track continues to add value for the guests who camp and those who come just for the races. A speed painter will even be in victory lane after the Consumers Energy 400 to capture the race winning celebration.

The entertainment starts on Thursday in the campgrounds and goes through the checkered flag for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Consumers Energy 400. In the campgrounds, guests can enjoy music from the bands, tour the infield on the pedal bar or listen to tunes from the dueling pianos. 

Sunday ticket holders can stick around on Saturday for the McDonald’s Post-Race Concert. Michigan’s own, Grand Funk Railroad, will celebrate its 50thanniversary of entertaining crowds at Michigan International Speedway. Skid Row and Sawyer Brown will keep the music going after the checkered flag waves for the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Corrigan Oil 200 on Aug. 10.

Tickets to the Consumers Energy 400 on Aug. 11 and the Corrigan Oil 200 on Aug. 10 can be purchased at Fans can find the perfect campsite for their families and friends in any of the different campgrounds at the track starting at $130. Fans can purchase tickets and campsites at www.mispeedway.comor by calling 888-905-7223.

Children 12 and under are admitted free on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, children 12 and under tickets start at $15.  Children 12 and under can attend three days of NASCAR action for just $15, ensuring families a weekend of fun at affordable prices.

Any guest who purchases a 12 and under ticket will automatically receive a free kids Pit and Driver Introduction Pass courtesy of Henry Ford Health System. Kids can experience pit road on Sunday morning, sign the start/finish line and view the cars and teams up close on race day. Kids will also have access to pre-race ceremonies, including driver introductions.