For the first time the U.S. President gave the command to start engines; He also turned a lap around the Daytona International Speedway (Video)
Last week, it was announced that the 45th President would visit the Daytona 500 on Sunday. The NASCAR event is hosted in the swing state of Florida, a state the president won in the 2016 election.
Air Force One arrived in Daytona Beach, Florida around 2pm. First, the plane made a low flyover of the sold out speedway. It then circled back and landed on the airport behind the backstretch of the race track.
The President was given limo transport from the Daytona International Speedway airport, to the pit lane. The bulletproof limo sat perpendicular to the race cars on the pit lane.
Opening Daytona 500 speech
Off air, Donald Trump gave a speech. He was greeted at the podium by Chip While, president of Daytona International Speedway
“Well Chip, thank you very much. And my fellow, race fans, there’s no greater thrill than to join you at The World Center of Racing for the 62nd Daytona 500,” Donald Trump stated.
The crowd cheered as the speech was played over the PA system at the speedway.
“The Daytona 500 is the legendary display of roaring engines. Soaring spirits of the American skill, speed and power that we’ve been hearing about for so many years.”
“ten of thousands of patriots here today have come for the fast cars and the world class motor sports.”
“But, NASCAR fans never forget that no matter who wins the race… What matters most is God, family and country.”
The crowd erupted.
Donald Trump talks the Daytona 500
Ahead of the green flag, Donald Trump stepped out of the limo with his wife. The President stood on the pit lane with his hand on his chest for the National Anthem.
The President was then handed a microphone.
“It really is the Great American Race,” the 45th President of the United States said.
“I look at this as almost a patriotism kind of thing. It’s incredible. The people are incredible.”
“We love the area. We love this state. I’ve been here four times before as a civilian. Now, I’m in a different capacity.”
“We love NASCAR. And we love the people of NASCAR.”
Trump last attended the 2001 Daytona 500.
“I think it’s really the bravery of these people. I mean, they do all the safety things. But, it [still] takes great courage, the speed.”
“It’s really the technology. You look at what’s happened, just over the last 10 years with the cars. I love to see it. I love to watch it.”
Are you allowed to drive?
“Well, you know I’m not. But, you know I’m really, right now. If I can, I’m going to hop into one of these cars and I’m going to get into this race, if possible.”
“I love the idea.”
Command to start engines
Just as Trump stepped up the track microphone a fan yelled, “We love you Trump.”
Donald Trump became the first President to give the command to start the engines.
“Daytona International Speedway, we love our country and it’s truly an honor to be with all of you at The Great American Race. Gentlemen, Start your engines!”
Donald Trump speaks to NASCAR drivers via radio
After giving the command, Trump entered the race track via limo. The Cadillac stayed on the apron of the race track.
“God, that’s awesome,” NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer stated over the radio as he pulled off the pit lane.
Why did President Trump stay on the apron? The limo weighs 18,000 lbs. The bullet windows alone are 5 inches thick. The doors are even thicker.
However, that’s not all he did. The president then requested a radio so he could speak directly into the headsets of all the drivers as the field paced behind the President’s limo.
“Drivers, this is President Trump, it was an honor to open the Daytona 500. Have a pronominal day, have a great race. God bless you, we love you,” Trump stated over the team radios.
And just as the green flag was set to drop, rain drops appeared on the windows of the race cars. Race cars come with slick tires that lack tread. They don’t work in rain and the start was slightly delayed.
After 20 laps, the race was red flagged, again for rain. This time, it was enough to push the remainder of the race to Monday.
Related: Daytona 500 tv schedule