Ronald Reagan was the first sitting President to attend a NASCAR race when he attended the Firecracker 400 at Daytona in 1984, a race Richard “The King” Petty won. Yesterday, at the Auto Club 400 in Fontana, California, Clint Bowyer’s car had the Reagan Centennial logo painted on its hood.
As the presidential nominating process gets under way, the candidate who can best lay claim to Reagan’s mantle will have a leg up on all the others. Furthermore, though the GOP primary will have a Southern, anti-establishment spirit that characterizes NASCAR, GOP candidates will face a similar challenges that faces NASCAR today — how to embrace its Southerness and anti-establishment nature while also branching out to suburban voters who traditionally do not make up its core audience.
Here’s the Reagan Centennial paint job on Bowyer’s car: