Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens Executive Director Thane Maynard will deliver the command for an international field of IndyCar Series stars to ignite their engines when he serves as grand marshal of the "Meijer Indy 300 Presented by Red Baron and Edy's" on Aug. 1 at Kentucky Speedway.

The nationally-known wildlife expert has been associated with the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens for more than 25 years. He is best known as a writer and host of numerous wildlife programs such as the "90-Second Naturalist," which airs on radio stations across North America. He has additionally been featured as regular guest with popular NBC Television late-night talk show host Conan O'Brien as well as on ABC Television's "Good Morning America," NBC Television's "Today" show and "CBS This Morning."

Maynard has previously worked as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) U.S. project coordinator and continues to partner with advocacy organizations such as Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy. He is author of 13 books and explores a variety of wildlife-related careers in his most recent work, "Working with Wildlife."

"Cheetahs are the fastest runners on Earth, so it's a perfect fit to have our 'Race For The Record' at Kentucky Speedway and to partner with record holder Sarah Fisher. Besides, our motto at the Cincinnati Zoo is 'More Animals. More Fun.' And what could be more fun than to come down to Kentucky Speedway to join their great fans? It'll be a blast."

Maynard is expected to attend the "Meijer Indy 300 Presented by Red Baron and Edy's" with Sarah, an eight-year-old female cheetah which will attempt to become the "World's Fastest Land Mammal" at the track Sept. 9 when she challenges a record time to be established by the South African cheetah Zaza on Aug. 15.

"Our association with the Cincinnati Zoo and its cheetahs dates back to our inaugural 2000 season when we were proud to play host to Moya. Under Thane's leadership and dedication, the Cincinnati Zoo has grown to be one of the very best in the world and we're honored he will be joining us for the 10th IndyCar Series event in our history," Kentucky Speedway Director of Communications Tim Bray said.

Kentucky Speedway stages its fourth and final 2009 race weekend featuring IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights action July 31-Aug. 1. Both series open the weekend with Friday practice sessions and qualifying before a Saturday doubleheader featuring the IndyCar Series "Meijer Indy 300 Presented by Red Baron and Edy's" and Firestone Indy Lights "Kentucky Indy Lights 100" along with modern rock group Carolina Liar in concert.

Weekend tickets, new infield camping and Big Deals can be reserved by visiting the tickets pages of, by phone at 888-652-RACE (7223) or through the Kentucky Speedway ticket offices at 400 Buttermilk Pike, Suite 100, in Ft. Mitchell, Ky., or the Sparta, Ky., Fan Center off of Interstate 71 Exit 57 and Ky. Hwy. 35 North. Fans also can reserve tickets at Meijer stores and outlets including Meijer stores.

~Kentucky Speedway ~