President Donald Trump will signal pilots to start their engines before the Daytona 500.
Officials of the Daytona International Speedway circuit named Trump the “grand marshal” of the race that opens the NASCAR season. This means that it will speak the four most famous words of these car races. “Gentlemen, start your engines,” has been a flagship phrase of competitions in the country and around the world for decades.
White House spokesman Judd Deere said Thursday that the president is planning to attend the race. Track president Chip Wile confirmed the news in a statement.
“Daytona International Speedway has had the privilege of hosting several sitting presidents of the United States throughout its history,” said Wile. “We are honored that the President has chosen the spectacle and excitement of the ‘Great American Race.’
Trump will be the third sitting president to attend a race at Daytona, but only the second to go the 500 miles. George W. Bush was present in 2004.
Likewise, Trump will be the first president to receive the role of honor in the previous ceremony.
Trump is scheduled to spend part of the weekend, which spans the Presidents’ Day holiday, at his private club in Palm Beach, Florida.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued a flight restriction for Sunday and the U.S. Secret Service, responsible for the president’s safety, posted a warning to fans on Twitter that drones are banned within a 30-mile radius. (30 miles) around the race in Daytona Beach _ a restriction used for presidential visits.
Trump has hosted several former NASCAR champions to the White House. Last October he awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Roger Penske, owner of the Penske Racing team.
Last year Trump praised retired driver Mario Andretti, the 1967 Daytona 500 champion, recalling the time that driver drove him on a racing car for his show “The Apprentice.”
“I said, ‘Mario, get me out of here. I want to get out of this car, ‘”Trump recalled. “We went very fast. We literally _ went four blocks forward like in a second. ” AP