South Carolina head coach and former Florida quarterback Steve Spurrier was among the celebrities in attendance at Sunday's Daytona 500.
Current Florida quarterback and 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow received one of the loudest ovations, however, while being introduced during the driver's meeting a couple of hours before the Daytona 500.
Tebow, his right arm minus the sling he wore following shoulder surgery last month, stood up and made a quick wave to the crowded hall before returning to his seat next to Spurrier.
Spurrier is a regular at the Speedway, The News-Journal of Daytona reported.
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Other celebrities in attendance were actor Tom Cruise, Academy Award winning actor Gene Hackman and singer Gavin DeGraw — and officials such as Florida Gov. Charlie Crist — who mingled with NASCAR's leaders before the season-opening race. New York Jets coach Rex Ryan and Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Joey Galloway were also in attendance.
"Spurrier got a few cheers and so did Galloway, but when NASCAR President Mike Helton introduced the quarterback of the 2008 National Champion Florida Gators, people started cheering before his name was even called," Tania Ganguli wrote on the Orlando Sentinel's NASCAR Nuts & Bolts blog.
The biggest cheers, however, were reserved Raymond Parks, considered "The Godfather of NASCAR." Parks was the first real car owner for the fledgling series in late 1940s, winning the Modified Series championship in 1948 and the Strictly Stock (now Cup) series in 1949 with driver Red Byron.