President Trump Starts Engines At Daytona 500, Calls Fans “Patriots”

VIDEO — Trump Fights Back in Fiery CPAC Speech

( – On Sunday, President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump did what no sitting president and First Lady had ever done before: They took a lap around the track at the Daytona 500.

Trump became only the second president in history to deliver the iconic command of “Gentlemen, start your engines!” before the historic NASCAR race on Sunday, but only the first to actually ride in the armored presidential limo that’s called “The Beast.”

Despite all the pomp and circumstance, though, the Daytona 500 at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida had to be postponed until Monday because of rain.

“The Daytona 500 is the legendary display of roaring engines, soaring spirits and the American skill, speed and power that we’ve been hearing about for so many years,” Trump said to the crowd of 100,000 rapid race fans that he called “patriots.”

“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,” he told a Fox Sports team in an interview. Of course, as a sitting president, Trump isn’t allowed to drive. So he and Melania took a lap around the Daytona 500 speedway in The Beast instead.

Trump continues to set new marks for presidents. He becomes only the second sitting president ever to even attend the Daytona 500. George W. Bush was the first, when he issued the “Gentlemen, start your engines!” command back in 2004. That year, Dale Earnhardt Jr. won his first Daytona 500.

Ronald Regan was actually the first sitting president to attend a NASCAR event. He did so in 1984, starting the race at the Firecracker 400. Ironically, that race was also held at the Daytona International Speedway. Richard Petty won his 200th career race that day.

American presidents and NASCAR have a long tradition together. Even Democrats Barack Obama and Bill Clinton have attended NASCAR races. The latter, though, was booed pretty heavily in 1992 when he attended the Southern 500 at Darlington, South Carolina, as a candidate for president. Those voters were none too happy with his lack of military service during the Vietnam War.

In 2016, Trump was endorsed by Brian France Jr. the former CEO of NASCAR. Throughout his first term in office, he has also hosted NASCAR series champions Martin Truex Jr. and Joey Logano at the White House. He even awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom last year to Roger Penske, an owner of a NASCAR team.

About 9 million viewers tuned in to watch the Daytona 500 on television last year, making it a great opportunity for Trump to reach out to potential voters as he continues to campaign in his 2020 re-election bid. While race fans have to wait another day to actually watch the drivers race around the track, they got a good revving up of their American spirits on Sunday with Trump’s introduction.