Fans aside, NASCAR's leadership and participants have often courted the resident of the White House - whoever it may be or whatever party he represents.
Richard Petty was among a large contingent of athletes who visited the White House in 1971 for a swanky dinner and a meeting with President Richard Nixon. The difference with the King vs. the other athletes, however, is he took his car with him.
|Source: Motor Racing Programme Covers|
President Carter did, however, carry through on a campaign promise to stay connected to racing. About 25 drivers and 500 total guests went to the White House in September 1978. Included in the night's events was a private concert from Willie Nelson - one of a multiple number of trips the Red Headed Stranger made to the Big Beer Joint.
As it turned out though, the President couldn't meet with the guests. He was detained at Camp David as he had his little negotiation thing going on between Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Menachem Begin of Israel.
With Jimmy away, first lady Rosalynn Carter represented the White House in the photo-ops.
|Source: Lakeland Ledger via Google News Archive|
Eight years later in 1992 - again on the 4th of July - King Richard made his final Daytona start. I was in the stands that Saturday morning as President George H.W. Bush visited the track and offered some pre-race comments about Petty and his career.
Two years later, Bush 43 visited Victory Junction Gang Camp, the camp for chronically ill children founded by the Petty family.
Interestingly, years before W. was elected the 43rd President, many fans were lobbying for The King to run for President.
And Darrell Waltrip offered the keynote address at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington earlier this month on February 5th.
In addition to NASCAR drivers meeting a President, some drivers shared a name with a President.
George Bush started five Grand National races in 1952 for car owner S.J. Lorenzo. He best finish was a seventh and averaged a 16th place finish in Lorenzo's Oldsmobiles.
|Credit: Henry Ford Flickr Collection|
Kennedy in his #0 Ford before the start of the 1977 CAM2 Motor Oil 400 at Michigan.
|Credit: Gwadagone on Fotki|