The Daytona 500 is in for its first presidential visit in over 15 years.
Daytona International Speedway president Chip Wile announced Thursday that President Donald Trump will be in attendance for Sunday’s season-opening NASCAR race, confirming a Tuesday report from the Orlando Sentinal.
“The Daytona 500 is one of the greatest events in sports and the prestigious season-opening event to the NASCAR Cup Series. Daytona International Speedway has been privileged to have hosted several sitting Presidents of the United States over our history,” Wile said in a statement. “We’re honored that the President of the United States has chosen to experience the pageantry and excitement of ‘The Great American Race’ by attending Sunday’s 62nd annual Daytona 500.”
Trump will be the grand marshal of the race, too, and tell drivers to start their engines.
— Jenna Fryer (@JennaFryer) February 13, 2020
He may even take the presidential limo for a quick lap around the track.
SCOOP: Multiple Sources tell @FoxNews that @realDonaldTrump is planning to take a lap at the @DISupdates Daytona International Speedway in the “Beast” presidential limo ahead of the Daytona 500. It’s not 100%, but that is the plan at the moment.
— John Roberts (@johnrobertsFox) February 15, 2020
Trump’s attendance at the 500 marks the first time a sitting president has attended the race since President George W. Bush went to the race in 2004.
If Trump flies into Daytona on Air Force One, he’ll likely arrive at Daytona Beach International Airport, which is located just south of Daytona International Speedway and outside the backstretch. Fans in the grandstands will be able to see Air Force One land and take off from the airport.
Here’s a video of Bush landing at the airport in 2004 ahead of the 500. That race was won by Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The most famous presidential visit to Daytona came on July 4, 1984. President Ronald Reagan was in attendance for Richard Petty’s 200th (and final) Cup Series win.
Trump was endorsed by Brian France in 2016
Trump has shown an affinity for NASCAR and the France family since former NASCAR CEO Brian France endorsed Trump when he was running for president in 2016. After France publicly endorsed Trump at a Georgia rally — a personal and private endorsement per NASCAR’s spokespeople at the time — Trump said on multiple occasions that he had been endorsed by NASCAR.
In February 2018, Trump called France and his family “special people.” Less than six months later, France took a leave of absence that extended into a parting of ways with NASCAR after he was arrested for DWI and drug possession in New York.
Trump went to College Football Playoff title game
The Daytona 500 would be Trump’s first major sporting event appearance since he went to LSU’s national title game win over Clemson in New Orleans in January. And it’ll make for long security lines for fans in attendance.
The race will also provide him a very friendly environment. It’s not inaccurate in the slightest to say that NASCAR fans are largely Trump supporters, and Trump carried Florida on his way to victory in the 2016 election.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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