Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, FL — February 16, 2020
It is not every day the President of the United States visits a NASCAR race. Regardless of their political persuasion, most race fans are OK with that. POTUS attendance at the Daytona 500 created long lines at every entry point. Secret Service checkpoints slowed the process to a crawl with bag checks, metal detectors, and bomb-sniffing dogs.
We live in an age of heightened security, where ever large crowds convene some sort of safety check is employed. The protectors of the President take that to a new level. NASCAR Media Credentialed reporters are generally given a free pass to enter any racing facility just by displaying their hard card. Not so today. Every computer, camera, and electrical device was inspected, a complete backpack empty was required.
Still, the site of Air Force 1 landing at Daytona International Airport directly behind the Speedway provided a spectacular view for those in attendance.
Prior to the race, President Donald Trump appeared on stage in a locked-down Victory Lane to give a speech. Gold-Star families, military members, invited guests, and a limited press corp viewed the only sitting President other than George W. Bush to attend The Great American Race.
Entering the track in the Presidential limousine “The Beast,” POTUS and the First Lady exited the vehicle and stood on pit road. After the National Anthem and a fly-over by the Air Force Thunderbirds.
Fox Sports’ Jamie Little did a short interview with the President and then the moment we have been waiting for all week. “Gentlemen Start Your Engines.”
Back in the limo, the convoy toured the track ahead of the field for a lap and then exited the racing surface into the entrance of the infield. Parking behind the Daytona 500 Club on the pit side of the start/finish line.
Grabbing an official’s radio, the President wished the drivers and crew good luck and to have a safe race. Thus history was made.
It then began to rain in turns one and two.
The red flag was displayed, the cars parked on pit road, and the sell-out crowd headed under the grandstands for cover.
POTUS has left the property. It’s going to be a late-night!
The Lasco Press Policy on Politics
The Lasco Press has a strict policy of avoiding politics, not endorsing candidates or supporting causes. This article is not intended to circumvent that policy and makes no political statement about any party or candidate. The historical significance of a sitting president starting what is one of the biggest events in automobile racing is newsworthy. To anyone who takes issue with the content, we apologize in advance. We will not post comments pro or con on the subject matter.