Daytona 500: Trump kicks off race with lap in presidential limousine
The Republican leader also served as the Grand Marshal at the annual National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing event, which takes place in the electoral swing state of Florida.
US President Donald Trump kicked off this year's Daytona 500 race on Sunday with a lap around the Florida race track in his presidential limousine. With this, he became the first of any President to take a lap in the armoured presidential limo, dubbed "The Beast".
The Republican leader also served as the Grand Marshal at the annual National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) event, which takes place in the electoral swing state of Florida. He became the second-ever President to deliver the Great American Race's iconic command, "Gentlemen, start your engines!" The first President to do so was George W. Bush who attended the Daytona 500 in 2004.
A portion of the presidential motorcade took a lap around the track before pulling aside just before the start of the race. The first couple was seen riding the car limo.
"To all of the drivers, technicians and pit crews here today, good luck and may the best team win. God bless you, God bless our military, God bless our veterans and God bless America. Have a great race."
The President had earlier tweeted about the race, showing his excitement about attending the event.
Getting ready to go to the Daytona 500. Will be GREAT!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 16, 2020
What is Daytona 500?
Considered the Super Bowl of stock car racing, the Daytona 500 has served as the NASCAR season opener since 1982. The 200-lap, 500-mile-long race will feature 40 drivers on the track of the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. The winner takes home a replica of the Harley J. Earl Trophy and about $1.5 million.
Trump also completed a dramatic flyby on Air Force One before the limo ride on racetrack along with the rest of his motorcade, Reuters reported.
Trump's campaign planned to take advantage of the President's appearance by flying an aerial banner near the speedway and running a television ad during the Fox broadcast.
Shortly after starting, the race was postponed until Monday because of rainy weather.
Trump ramps up re-election effort
Florida is one of a handful of US states that swing between Democrats and Republicans in presidential elections. Trump won the state, where he has golf courses and a home that is now considered his primary residence, in his race against Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Trump plans a fundraising swing and political rallies in Western states this week. He spent the weekend at his resort in Palm Beach, Florida, before going to Daytona.
He later made it back to Washington for the wedding of top aide and immigration hardliner Stephen Miller to Vice President Mike Pence's spokeswoman, Katie Waldman, at the Trump International Hotel near the White House.
Multiple people associated with NASCAR, manufacturers and race teams joked about Trump's presence at the event, saying that "it's starting to feel more like a race is breaking out at a Trump rally than the other way around".
Funny how you chose to go to Daytona 500 instead of the NBA All Star game. Is it because you don't think they'll cheer for you? Gee, I wonder what's different between NBA fans and Nascar fans. ????— Sergio Siano (@SergioJSiano) February 17, 2020