DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — President Donald Trump will attend the Daytona 500 on Sunday, an official said.
“The president will be here for the Daytona 500. That is all of the information I have at this time,” Joanne Magley, a spokeswoman for Daytona Beach International Airport wrote in an email.
And the U.S. Secret Service, which provides security for the president, tweeted Wednesday morning that it was securing the Daytona 500 by establishing a 30-mile “no drone zone” around the racetrack.
When told that Magley had confirmed that Trump would be attending, Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said his agency is making preparations for three VIPs: Trump, Melania Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“We are planning and preparing as if the president and the first lady and the governor are coming. Anything as far as definite confirmation has to come out of the White House,” Chitwood said.
Chitwood said that he would defer any questions about security and traffic to the Speedway and the Secret Service.
He said the Sheriff’s Office will coordinate with other law enforcement agencies, including federal agencies like the Secret Service, to guarantee the safety of everyone involved.
“You got to assume everything is going to be ramped up to a really high level than you would see at a normal race,” Chitwood said.
“I think it’s pretty cool that Air Force One is going to be landing at our airport,” Chitwood added.
Speedway spokesman Andrew Booth avoided confirming that Trump would be attending when asked about any pre-race security measures fans will need to be aware of.
“Prior to all of our events, we have communications with our fans with all the important things they need know, including entrance procedures.”
Veteran driver Kurt Busch said anxiety is already revving at a high RPM at the race even without a presidential visit.
“This is the Daytona 500. It’s already over the top, off the charts, fun, exciting, and you’re just rolling with whatever comes your way,” Busch said. “They tell you to be in the car at a certain time, so you go when they tell you to put your helmet on.
“I can’t wait for President Trump to show up and for all of the race fans to acknowledge him and just to have that fun atmosphere of a president at the Daytona 500.”
Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile declined comment when asked Wednesday whether Trump was expected for the 500 on Sunday.
John Eiff, who is the airport manager at DeLand Municipal Airport, said his airport was warned by air traffic controllers at Daytona Beach International Airport that Trump might be flying in to the Daytona 500. If Trump did, that would impact air traffic in the area, Eiff said.
The FAA in an email to the News-Journal said that FAA air traffic controllers did not tell the DeLand airport manager that Trump would be attending the race. They only discussed temporary flight restrictions.
“When asked about procedures for a potential visit, they explained that a TFR would be put into place,” the FAA said in an email.
The FAA said it does not discuss issues related to the president.
When Trump does fly in for the Daytona 500, it will ground all the planes at DeLand Municipal Airport.
That’s because all planes in the area would have to be under direct control of air traffic control, Eiff said.
Eiff said most of the planes flying out of the DeLand Municipal Airport are recreational and are not under the direct control of air traffic controllers.
The FAA posted a notice on its website on Monday alerting pilots to expect VIP movement on Sunday in the vicinity of Daytona Beach. The FAA warned pilots to expect restrictions related to the VIP movement.
Trump will be the second sitting president to visit the 500. The first was George W. Bush who was the president when he visited the 500 in 2004. President Ronald Reagan visited the July race which was known as the Firecracker 400 in 1984 and President George H.W. Bush also attended the Firecracker 400 in 1992.
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