USC Football Coach Clay Helton to be Sunday’s Grand Marshal!

Clay Helton, head football coach of the defending Rose Bowl champion University of Southern California Trojans, will give the command, “Drivers, start your engines!” as Grand Marshal for the 43rd Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Sunday, April 9.

As Grand Marshal, Helton’s activities at the racetrack will also include attending the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers’ meeting, visiting the race teams in their paddock, taking a pre-race hot lap of the track in a two-seat Indy car with driving legend Mario Andretti, greeting the drivers as they are introduced before the race and participating in the parade and pace laps immediately prior to the start of the race at 1:30 p.m. PT.

The 44-year-old Helton is 16-7 as Trojan head coach, including a breakthrough 10-3 mark in 2016 which included wins over No. 4 Washington, No. 5 Penn State in a legendary Rose Bowl thriller and No. 21 Colorado en route to a 9-game winning streak, the team’s longest since 2008-09.

Helton was a finalist for the 2016 Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year award and won the Football Writers First Year Co-Coach of the Year honors.

“I am honored and thrilled to serve as Grand Marshal of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, representing our football team and the Trojan family,” said Helton. “It will be exciting to get an up-close look at the incredibly skilled drivers and their support teams, and the cars they drive, as well as seeing all that goes into making the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach such an iconic sporting event.”

Helton’s 2017 Trojans—the school’s 125th football team—will enter the season highly ranked as they return 14 starters from last ye
ar, including Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Sam Darnold, 1,000-yard rusher Ronald Jones II, tackle leader Cameron Smith at inside linebacker and cornerback Iman Marshall.

Helton joined the USC staff in February of 2010 as quarterback coach after spending 10 seasons as an assistant at Memphis, was named passing game coordinator in 2012 and offensive coordinator in 2013.  After starting the 2015 season as Trojan offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, Helton was named USC’s permanent head coach on Nov. 30 of that year (for 2 post-season games), dropping the interim head coach title he had held for USC’s final 7 regular season games.

Helton and his wife, Angela, have 3 children: sons Reid (a USC student), 19, and Turner, 13, and daughter Aubrey, 17.

Fans can follow the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Facebook at GrandPrixLB, Twitter @ToyotaGPLB, Instagram at ToyotaGPLB and Snapchat at ToyotaGPLB.