Trump kicks off Daytona 500 race with limo loop

US President Donald Trump making a lap around the racetrack in his presidential limousine, with race cars following behind, at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida on Sunday. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
US President Donald Trump making a lap around the racetrack in his presidential limousine, with race cars following behind, at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida on Sunday. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

DAYTONA BEACH (Florida) • United States President Donald Trump took a loop around the Daytona 500 racetrack in his presidential limousine, drawing cheers from fans at Nascar's most prestigious race not long after completing a dramatic fly-by on Air Force One.

Ramping up his nationwide re-election effort after his acquittal in the US Senate impeachment trial, Mr Trump served as grand marshal at the annual National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (Nascar) event on Sunday, which takes place in the electoral swing state of Florida.

Mr Trump, a former reality television star with a taste for showmanship, landed aboard Air Force One near the Daytona International Speedway. He was then driven in the presidential limousine, known as "The Beast", directly onto the racetrack along with the rest of his motorcade.

After meeting people at the speedway and delivering brief remarks, Mr Trump kicked off the race by announcing to the drivers: "Gentlemen, start your engines!"

Engines revved, and Mr Trump got back into the limo with his wife, Melania, for a lap around the track, with the race cars following behind. Some fans chanted "Four more years" while Mr Trump was there.

Mr Trump's campaign planned to take advantage of the President's appearance by flying an aerial banner near the speedway and running a television advertisement during the Fox broadcast.

Shortly after starting, the race was postponed because of rainy weather.

Previous presidents who attended Nascar events at the speedway include Mr Ronald Reagan, Mr George Bush and Mr George W. Bush.

Florida is one of a handful of US states that swing between Democrats and Republicans in presidential elections. Mr Trump won the state in his race against Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 18, 2020, with the headline 'Trump kicks off Daytona 500 race with limo loop'. Print Edition | Subscribe