The actors were named honorary starters thanks to their roles in the upcoming film “Fordv. Ferrari,” which chronicles the story of Ford’s quest to defeat Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the 1960s.
Damon plays auto racing legend Carrol Shelby in the movie, while Bale takes on the role of Shelby’s test and racing driver Ken Miles.
Miles helped develop the Ford GT40 into a winner, but was denied victory in the 1966 race, despite leading near the end, when the team ordered him to slow down so the top three Fords could cross the finish line together. Race officials declared the car driven by Bruce McLaren to be the winner because it started the race farther back on the grid and had traveled a longer distance.
Qualifying for the Indy 500 takes place this weekend, with the race scheduled for May 26.
“Ford v. Ferrari” is helmed by “Logan” director James Mangold and hits theaters on Nov. 15.