Daytona 500 Takes On Air Of Trump Rally As ‘Beast’ Limo Does Lap, Air Force One Circles Overhead

"U-S-A" chants rang throughout the 100,000-strong crowd as Trump added flair to his role as grand marshal.

SAUL LOEB/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

When it was announced that President Donald Trump would serve as the grand marshal for this weekend's Daytona 500, we knew it'd be more than just a mere celebrity appearance. 

The Commander-in-Chief’s Cadillac limo—known as "The Beast"—went for a few laps around the banked speedway, leading the whole event to take on the air of a Trump rally in addition to the most significant race on the NASCAR calendar. As he seeks re-election this year, the president was met mostly with cheers instead of jeers from a largely enthusiastic crowd in the grandstands. 

Trump’s Air Force One also circled just 800 feet above the track as onlookers cheered below before he commanded drivers to start their engines before the race start. 

With Daytona Beach International Airport just across the street from the racetrack, Trump's arrival was never going to be subtle. Still yet, the low-flying Boeing 747-200B helped the President make a statement that'd soon be built upon by his parade laps in the armored Caddy. He is the second sitting president to visit the race, after George W. Bush in 2004. 

With chants of "U-S-A" ringing throughout the massive racing complex, Trump's entrance was—and remains—the main show of the afternoon as a rain delay was put into place following the lengthy festivities. 

Trump’s appearance at the race is listed as an official White House event, meaning the trip was likely funded by American tax dollars. How much was spent was unclear, but other modern presidents have indulged in similar spectacles. 

The president roped his race track debut in with a Florida fundraising trip, one that Politico on Saturday reported was expected to rake in as much as $10 million

It’s worth noting that Trump has a close relationship with NASCAR’s France family; indeed, racing scion Brian France endorsed his run in 2016.

But no matter where one lands on the political spectrum, today’s race may end up largely being remembered for its spectacle before the flag dropped, rather than for any on-track action itself. 

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