President Trump to give command to start engines at Daytona

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 21: U.S. President Donald Trump attends an event to honor 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. on the South Lawn of the White House on May 21, 2018 in Washington, DC. Truex drives the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump is expected to attend the Daytona 500 on Sunday, adding to his growing list of appearances at professional sports events over the last few months.  He will give the command for drivers to start their engines.

Daytona International Speedway officials named Trump the grand marshal for NASCAR’s season opener, meaning he will deliver the most famous four words in auto racing. “Gentleman, start your engines,” has been a staple of races around the country and world for decades.

The Daytona International Speedway in Florida, which will host NASCAR’s biggest race this weekend, and a White House official confirmed the President is planning to attend the 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 on Thursday. “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 become the second sitting US president to attend the Daytona 500. Then-President George W. Bush attended in 2004.

Trump has a close relationship with Roger Penske, a race car team owner, former professional race car driver and entrepreneur.

The President gave Penske the Medal of Freedom last year and separately held a reception for Penske’s racing team at the White House for their Indianapolis 500 win. He’s also hosted the 2017 and 2018 NASCAR champions at the White House.

The NASCAR race in a swing state is the latest in a line of appearances and ad buys at professional sports events over the last few months.

Since October, Trump has attended three college football games, including the Army-Navy game, a World Series baseball game and an Ultimate Fighting Championship match.

At the World Series game in Washington, and the UFC match in Manhattan, Trump faced mixed crowds. But at college football games, set in the deep red states of Alabama and Louisiana, he received loud cheers.

The Trump campaign also made a seven-figure ad buy during the final game of the 2019 World Series and a $10 million ad buy during the 2020 Super Bowl.

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