Motor racing-LeBron James to flag away centenary Le Mans 24 Hours race

FILE PHOTO: LeBron James attends a premiere for the film "Shooting Stars" in Los Angeles, California, U.S., May 31, 2023. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo

(Reuters) - Basketball great LeBron James will be the official starter when the 24 Hours of Le Mans sportscar race celebrates its centenary this weekend, organisers of the endurance classic said on Monday.

The Los Angeles Lakers forward, the NBA's all-time leading scorer and four-time champion, joins a list of celebrity starters who have carried out the ceremonial role over the decades.

Hollywood actor Brad Pitt was the starter in 2016 and Steve McQueen lowered the French flag to start the race in 1971, the year he starred in the movie Le Mans.

'King James' will unleash the 62-strong field at 1600 local time (1400GMT) on Saturday.

"There’s nothing like seeing and experiencing sports at their highest level," said the 38-year-old.

"It’s an honor for me to be part of this historic moment in motor sport and help celebrate the Centenary of one of the biggest sporting events in the world."

James is a partner in Fenway Sports Group, who co-own the RFK Racing NASCAR team.

The U.S.-based stock car series is celebrating its 75th anniversary and has a special entry at Le Mans driven by seven times NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson, 2009 Formula One champion Jenson Button and former Le Mans winner Mike Rockenfeller.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris)

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