NASCAR Daytona 500 Live: Trump is planning to take a lap around the track at Daytona International Speedway prior to the venerable NASCAR event, Fox News chief White House correspondent John Roberts reported on Friday, citing multiple sources familiar with the matter. Plans have not yet been finalized.
President Trump’s appearance at the Daytona 500 on Sunday may feature a guest appearance from the presidential limousine known as “The Beast.”
NASCAR named Trump the grand marshal of the Daytona 500, marking the first time a sitting president has held the honor. He is the latest of several presidents to visit the historic race.
“Daytona International Speedway has been privileged to have hosted several sitting Presidents of the United States over our history,” Daytona International Speedway President Chip 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.”Former President George W. Bush attended the Daytona 500 in 2004. His father, former president George H.W. Bush, attended a July race at Daytona in 1992 and Ronald Reagan attended a race in 1984.
Trump’s presence at the race was first reported Wednesday when the Federal Aviation Administration issued a flight restriction over the racetrack for Sunday. The announcement of a flight restriction is standard when the president attends a major sporting event.The 62nd running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday will mark the start of a new era for NASCAR, following its landmark offseason acquisition of International Speedway Corp.
NASCAR now owns the Daytona International Speedway – home of the venerable season-opening race – as well as several other tracks included in the $2 billion acquisition. While big changes related to the deal aren’t expected until 2021, the transaction gives NASCAR unprecedented control over its racing schedule as it reshapes its business to appeal to younger fans.
“It makes a big difference,” NASCAR Chairman Jim France said of the merger. “It gives us an opportunity to respond quicker to the changing environment out here with the economy and all the things that are going on that impact motorsports. It was a major big step that we needed to make probably for quite a while.”Finalized last October, the deal gave NASCAR control over a total of 12 tracks, including Daytona, Talladega Superspeedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway. NASCAR officials have touted venue flexibility as a key element of a push to jumpstart fan interest in the schedule. Television ratings were roughly flat last season after declines in previous years.
Rather than rely on one top-line sponsor for the NASCAR Cup Series, the circuit tabbed four major corporate partners for this year’s schedule – Coca-Cola, Geico Insurance, Xfinity and Busch Beer. Aside from tweaks to scheduling and sponsorships, NASCAR plans to unveil its “next-gen” car for competition in 2021.