Trump Takes Lap in 'the Beast' at Daytona 500

He's just the 2nd sitting president to attend the race
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 16, 2020 3:29 PM CST
Trump Takes a Lap Around Daytona 500
Fans watch from the grandstands as Air Force One circles the Daytona International Speedway as President Donald Trump makes his arrival to attend the NASCAR Daytona 500 auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020, in Daytona Beach, Fla.   (AP Photo/Terry Renna)

The start of the Daytona 500 was delayed by an unexpected rain shower that began moments after President Trump and his motorcade finished a ceremonial parade lap Sunday. Trump's limousine nicknamed “the beast” exited Daytona International Speedway, and the 40 drivers were expected to begin the race moments later. Instead, the sky opened for a brief shower and drivers returned to pit road. The start already had been pushed back 13 minutes to accommodate Trump's trip, just the second time a sitting president has attended the Daytona 500, the AP reports. Trump made a dramatic entrance hours earlier, setting off a raucous celebration at the famed track. Thousands cheered as Air Force One performed a flyover and landed at Daytona International Airport a few hundred yards behind the track. Trump's motorcade arrived a few minutes later, prompting another loud ovation.

At least a dozen drivers were escorted from the pre-race meeting to a private introduction with Trump. The president served as the grand marshal for the Daytona 500 and gave drivers the traditional command, "Gentlemen, start your engines," after which the United States Air Force Thunderbirds performed a second flyover. Trump then got in the limousine and turned a lap. The president's visit was widely welcomed by NASCAR fans. Trump 2020 flags flooded the infield, and some fans wore them as capes in the garage area. Trump's presence also created huge lines at entrances, with many fans complaining while waiting hours to get through security. Former NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France, who was replaced following his August 2018 arrest on DUI charges, was on Air Force One with the president and first lady; France recruited several drivers to attend a Georgia rally for Trump when he was a candidate.

(More Daytona 500 stories.)

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