- President Donald Trump on Sunday served as the grand marshall of the Daytona 500 in Daytona, Florida.
- The president accompanied by first lady Melania Trump drove around the racetrack in a limousine before the event began.
- Former President George W. Bush also attended the race during his 2004 campaign for re-election.
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With first lady Melania Trump by his side, President Donald Trump took his re-election campaign to the Daytona Speedway on Sunday, serving as the grand marshall of the 2019 Daytona 500 NASCAR race.
“My fellow race fans, there’s no greater thrill than to join you at the world centre of races for the 62nd Daytona 500,” Trump said in remarks delivered before the popular NASCAR event. “So exciting.”
“NASCAR fans never forget that no matter who wins the race, what matters most is God, family, and country,” the president said to applause as seen in a Fox News clip of his remarks posted to Twitter.
Before the race began, President Trump and the first lady took a lap around the track inside a black armed limousine called “The Beast.”
According to Fox Sports, there is a notable crossover between POTUS and NASCAR. Former Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, and Barack Obama all enjoyed some level of involvement with the popular motorsport.
Right-wing commentator and former congressional candidate Dan Bongino was one of many conservatives online who celebrated the president’s appearance at the Daytona 500.
“The combination of NASCAR, patriotism, muscle cars, speed, power, and President Donald J. Trump have psychiatrist’s phones ringing off the hook today with liberal snowflakes who just can’t take it. Lib heads are exploding everywhere,” Bongino said.
“You will see no criticism of President Trump’s performance today at NASCAR, since no Dem, fake news, media person actually knows what NASCAR is or where to find it,” right-wing iHeartRadio host Mark Simone tweeted.
While a tweet from ABC News suggested that the president was attending the Florida NASCAR race to “win over NASCAR fans,” responses to the tweet were quick to point out that plenty of NASCAR fans already support Trump.
“President Trump IS, THE PEOPLES PRESIDENT! Many or most nascar ppl are blue collar,” one person wrote on Twitter.
According to a 2004 article from ESPN, President George W. Bush also attended the Daytona 500, and he was the only other president to do so. Bush’s father – the late President George H.W. Bush – had also previously visited the Florida race track during his time in office, though not during the Daytona 500.
Like Trump, the younger Bush also served as a grand marshall at the Daytona Speedway, serving as the grand marshall of the Pepsi 400 in July 2000, according to ESPN, and again as the grand marshall in 2004 during the Daytona 500, according to Fox News.
The Fox News report also noted former President Obama regularly invited NASCAR winners to the White House, a tradition that has been maintained by Trump. Former President Ronald Regan was the first sitting president to attend a NASCAR race, attending what was then called the Firecracker 400 in Daytona in 1984.
When Bush attended the race in 2004, he was also in the middle of his campaign for re-election.
“Bush needs more support from voters with a high school education or less, who currently are more inclined to vote against him, according to an AP-Ipsos poll. The NASCAR crowd is increasingly diverse, however, and includes far more upscale, well-educated voters than the auto racing crowds of 20 years ago,” ESPN reported at the time.
According to a 2020 poll from Zogby Analytics, some 67% of Americans surveyed who said they were fans of NASCAR also said they at least somewhat approved of the 45th president’s job in office. In 2016, NASCAR CEO Brian France endorsed Trump’s bid for the White House. Some NASCAR drivers, like NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott and his son, Chase, also a driver, endorsed the president in 2016, according to a report from USA Today.
Regardless of whether he gained new fans or re-affirmed support from existing supporters by attending the February race, Trump was welcomed by the Florida crowd, which broke out in a chant of “four more years” when the president arrived at the race, according to a tweet from CBS Sports reporter Jordan Dajani.