President Donald J. Trump will be the second sitting U.S. president to attend the Daytona 500 when he serves as grand marshal Sunday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/UPI | License Photo

President Donald Trump to be grand marshal at 2020 Daytona 500


Feb. 14 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump will be the grand marshal at the 2020 Daytona 500, saying "Gentleman, start your engines" before the race Sunday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.

A White House spokesman said Thursday Trump planned to attend the race, before the move was confirmed by Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile.

"We're honored that the president of the United States has chosen to experience the pageantry and excitement of 'The Great American Race' by attending Sunday's 62nd annual Daytona 500," Wile said in a statement.

Trump will be the second sitting U.S. president to attend a Daytona 500 and the first to have a role in the pre-race festivities.

Former President George W. Bush attended the 2004 Daytona 500.

Trump has attended several major sporting events during his tenure as president, including: the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship; the Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao boxing match in 2015; the 2015 U.S. Open tennis tournament; the 2017 President's Cup golf tournament; the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship; and the 2019 World Series.

Officials are also preparing for first lady Melania Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to attend the race. The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a flight restriction for Sunday.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines but not your drones," the U.S. Secret Service tweeted Wednesday. "The Secret Service is securing the NASCAR Daytona 500 by providing a 30-mile 'No Drone Zone.' Enjoy the race."

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Alex Bowman, Joey Logano, William Byron and Aric Almirola will start in the top five at the 2020 Daytona 500 at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

NASCAR announced Thursday that reserved tickets for the 62nd annual Daytona 500 are sold out for the fifth consecutive year.

"The Daytona 500 is one of the greatest events in sports and will unfold in front of a packed house," Wile said. "We have the most loyal and passionate fans in sports, and we are forever grateful for their support. We look forward to another thrilling edition of 'The Great American Race' as we kick off the new NASCAR season."