President Donald Trump treated NASCAR fans to a spectacle for the ages on Sunday, buzzing the Daytona 500 track with Air Force One before taking a lap around the speedway in the presidential limo, known as ‘The Beast’.
Trump will be the first president to serve as the grand marshal for the ‘Great American Race’ and give the famous ‘start your engines’ command for drivers at the start of the race.
‘It doesn’t get more American than this,’ NASCAR driver Joey Logano said about the president’s appearance at the Daytona 500.
The president and first lady Melania Trump arrived in Daytona early Sunday afternoon, flying in Air Force One from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. Air Force One did a special low flyover of the track, much to the delight of attendees. Once the first couple de-boarded the plane, they loaded up into The Beast and did a lap on Daytona International Speedway.
Melania even did her best impression of a grid girl, twirling in a belted black and white midi dress and tall white stilettos.
The crowd chanted ‘USA’ and even ‘Four More Years’ at different points throughout the president’s visit.
Both Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg have been praised for their marketing acumen, but can the former New York City mayor’s bribed Instagram influencers really compete with the more organic optics of tens of thousands of NASCAR fans roaring in approval for their president on Fox Sports network?
In an interview before the race, Trump described NASCAR as ‘almost a patriotism kind of thing’, adding, ‘I’ve been here four times before as a civilian…we love NASCAR and we love the people of NASCAR.’
Treating the crowd to another historic surprise, Trump opted to pace the field in The Beast.
‘I love it … God it’s awesome,’ driver Clint Bowyer said on his radio as the limo led the field around the track.
The president has been on a hot streak with major sporting events, receiving raucous applause at the College Football National Championship between Clemson and LSU, and another major college football matchup between Alabama and LSU.
The string of warm welcomes comes after Trump was booed at Game 5 of the MLB World Series between the Nationals and the Astros in Washington, DC.
The contrast between thousands of blue-collar NASCAR fanatics rooting for Trump and the elite lobbyist and politician class in DC booing him only bolsters the president’s claim that he is working on behalf of ‘real America’. Ahead of the 2020 election, will it leave his base feeling they chose the right person to take on the swamp?