President Trump revved up NASCAR’s Daytona 500 on Sunday, changing into the second-ever president to ship the Nice American Race’s iconic command, “Gents, begin your engines!” and the primary of any president to take a lap within the armored presidential limo, dubbed “The Beast.”
Trump, who was tapped to behave because the race’s grand marshal, and first girl Melania Trump addressed the 100,000-seat racetrack at Florida’s Daytona Worldwide Speedway forward of the race he referred to as “pure American glory.”
“The Daytona 500 is the legendary display of roaring engines, soaring spirits and the American skill, speed and power that we’ve been hearing about for so many years,” Trump instructed the group earlier than the race started.
He referred to as the tens of 1000’s of followers current on the racetrack “patriots,” including that “NASCAR followers always remember that regardless of who wins the race, what issues most is God, household and nation.”
In an interview from the observe, Trump instructed Fox Sports activities that whereas he isn’t in a position to drive his personal automobile as president, he was tempted to get behind the wheel of one of many race automobiles.
“Proper now, if I can, I am gonna hop into considered one of these automobiles and I am gonna get into this race, if attainable,” he joked.
Trump and Melania took a lap across the speedway within the closely armored presidential limo after giving the command for racers to begin their engines. The lap within the 22,000-pound, Cadillac-branded limousine marked a historic first for any president.
Trump is barely the second sitting president to attend the 500, behind President George W. Bush who issued the well-known command in 2004, the yr Dale Earnhardt Jr. gained his first 500. Earnhardt was readily available Sunday and waved the inexperienced flag as honorary starter.
His look follows within the footsteps of former President Ronald Reagan, who in 1984 turned the primary sitting president to attend a NASCAR race on the speedway when he began the Firecracker 400, giving the command, “Gentlemen, start your engines!” from aboard Air Drive One.
It was at that race that Richard Petty captured his historic 200th victory. Reagan watched till the tip, even doing just a few laps of radio play-by-play through the race earlier than he congratulated Petty and ate rooster with drivers, crew members, NASCAR staff and their households within the storage space.
Former President George H.W. Bush additionally visited the observe at Daytona, however not through the 500 race.
Democrat Bill Clinton attended a NASCAR race as a presidential candidate in September 1992, however many followers on the Southern 500 in Darlington, S.C., booed and heckled him over the query of his lack of Vietnam-era army service that stalked his marketing campaign.
President Barack Obama’s preliminary presidential marketing campaign was introduced with the chance to sponsor a automobile in a NASCAR race, however finally declined that likelihood. Nevertheless, Obama routinely invited the winners of the NASCAR Cup Collection championship to the White Home, a practice Trump has continued.
Trump, who was endorsed in 2016 by former NASCAR CEO Brian France Jr., has hosted collection champions Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr. at The White Home and gave NASCAR crew proprietor Roger Penske the Presidential Medal of Freedom final yr.
The Daytona 500 was set to begin at 2:30 p.m. ET on the FOX broadcast channel. Drivers will battle by 200 laps across the speedway within the 500-mile inventory automobile race for an opportunity to raise the champion’s trophy on Victory Lane.
About 100,000 individuals are anticipated to attend this yr’s race and thousands and thousands extra will watch on tv. About 9 million individuals took in final yr’s race on tv.
Fox Information’ John Roberts and Gary Gastelu and The Related Press contributed to this report.