NASCAR fans got the show of the century on Sunday at the Daytona 500 when the grand marshal of the event, President Donald J. Trump, made his entrance by buzzing the Daytona International Speedway in Air Force One—only 800 feet off the racetrack. Announcers called it “one of the most incredible things” ever seen.
Talk about an entrance …#DAYTONA500
— Tim Murtaugh – Text TRUMP to 88022 (@TimMurtaugh) February 16, 2020
“I’ve been to a lot of Daytona 500s, but never have I felt [this] excitement and energy…we’ve got the president landing right now!” said one of the announcers. No president has ever been the grand marshal of the Daytona 500. Look at this photo!
Simply amazing…🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/09eLv4QfKW
— 🇺🇸 Kim 🇺🇸 (@kimfreethinker) February 16, 2020
There were rumors all week that the president would also take a lap in The Beast before the race. Shortly after the AF1 flyover, he did just that.
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) February 16, 2020
But he didn’t just want to drive around the track—the president paced the field ahead of the competitors too.
— Calli Norton (@CalliNorton) February 16, 2020
Driver Clint Bowyer was recorded when he found out the president was going to pace the field, exclaiming happily, “Love it! God, it’s awesome!”
— ForAmerica (@ForAmerica) February 16, 2020
But the president wasn’t done. As he was exiting the track he asked for access to the radio so he could deliver a special message to the drivers.
. @realDonaldTrump just got on the radio from the Beast and said:
"Drivers, this is President Trump and it was an honor to open the Daytona 500, have a phenomenal day, have a great race, be safe, God Bless you, we love you."
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) February 16, 2020
When Trump and the first lady arrived, they were greeted by the roar of the crowd and chants of “FOUR MORE YEARS.”
Cheers of "USA" and "Four More Years" greet the arrival of the President Trump and First Lady Melania. #Daytona500
— Kambree (@KamVTV) February 16, 2020
Trump also is the first president to deliver the famous opening phrase, “Gentlemen, start your engines!”
— Students For Trump (@TrumpStudents) February 16, 2020
Earlier, the president delivered a short speech that was well-received by the crowd. “There is no greater thrill than to join you at the world’s center of racing for the 62nd Daytona 500. So exciting!” said Trump. “The tens of thousands of patriots here today have come for the fastest cars in the world-class motorsports, but NASCAR fans never forget that no matter who wins the race what matters most is God, family, and country.” Trump recognized the Gold Star Families attending the event and honored all fallen warriors during the speech. Trump went on to laud NASCAR competitors for racing in pursuit of “American glory.”
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) February 16, 2020
“For 500 heart-pounding miles these fierce competitors will chase the checkered flag … and make their play for pure American glory, and that’s what it is, pure American glory,” remarked the president.
And Trump would not be Trump without having some fun with reporters. He tells this one he’s going to steal a car and get in the race if he can.
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) February 16, 2020
America’s most popular sport just had an epic day!
Megan Fox is the author of “Believe Evidence; The Death of Due Process from Salome to #MeToo,” and host of The Fringe podcast. Follow on Twitter @MeganFoxWriter