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Stars come out for Sparta race

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By Brian Blair

The stars were out in Sparta Saturday before the sun went down.

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The Nationwide Series race at Kentucky Speedway always brings out some of the best drivers racing has to offer.

Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano are some of the best and most well-known drivers on the circuit and seem to enjoy coming to Kentucky.

While fans enjoy rubbing shoulders with the drivers around the garage and the pits, one never knows who else they may bump into. Saturday night was no exception.

Star of the hit Disney Channel show “Lizzy McGuire,” Hillary Duff, was the grand marshal for Saturday’s race. She was on hand on behalf of the charity “Blessings in a Backpack.” Duff who is the national spokesperson for the charity was presented with a check for $50,000 for the organization.

New University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari was a guest of former coach Joe B. Hall and was introduced to the crowd before the race.

Also on hand was singer, songwriter and Cincinnati native “Bootsy” Collins. The guitarist came to prominence with James Brown in the 1960s and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.

Joining Collins was Keith Maupin. He is the father of U.S. Marine Matt Maupin who made headlines when he was captured and went missing in Iraq in 2004. Maupin remained missing until March of 2008 when his remains were found and brought home.

Perhaps the “biggest” star hanging out in the garages over the weekend was former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield. The fighter may be most remembered for his fight with Mike Tyson when Tyson bit off the top of Holyfield’s ear. Holyfield is part owner of the #42 Smith Iron Works/Little Red Wagon Dodge driven by Kenny Hendrick.

Before the race, country singer Pat Green held a meet-and-greet session before performing a concert for fans on the concourse.