WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) – President Donald Trump will test his racing skills in the political swing state of Florida on Sunday with a lap in his presidential limousine “the Beast” at the Daytona 500, NASCAR’s most prestigious race.
Ramping up his nationwide re-election effort after his acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial, Trump will serve as the Grand Marshall at the annual National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing event.
The president is expected to take a literal lap around the racetrack and deliver the opening line: “Drivers, start your engines” at the Daytona International Speedway before a 100,000-strong crowd.
“Getting ready to go to the Daytona 500. Will be GREAT!” Trump tweeted Sunday morning.
Getting ready to go to the Daytona 500. Will be GREAT!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 16, 2020
Many people in Trump’s conservative base are NASCAR fans, and Trump’s campaign is taking advantage of the president’s appearance to fly an aerial banner near the speedway and run a television ad during the Fox broadcast of the race.
“NASCAR fans are patriots who support the president in huge numbers, so we definitely wanted to communicate directly with them about Keeping America Great during the Great American Race,” 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement.
Donald Trump at the Daytona 500 continues a Republican presidential tradition
Previous presidents who have attended NASCAR events at the speedway include Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.
Florida is one of a handful of U.S. states that swing between Democrats and Republicans in presidential elections. Trump won the state, where he has golf courses and a home that is now considered his primary residence, in his race against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Trump plans a fundraising swing and political rallies in western states later this week.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall; Pluralist contributed to this report.)