Obama reaches out to NASCAR nation
One group of Americans who failed to support Barack Obama in his race for the presidency last year were “NASCAR Dads,” white, working-class Southern men presumed to be fans of the U.S. racing circuit. The president reached out to them in a big way on Wednesday by hosting a ceremony in honor of Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR’s 2008 Sprint Cup Champion, with Johnson and an array of current drivers and former NASCAR champions.
“You know, it is not every day that we have a championship stock car parked out on the South Lawn,” joked Obama, known more as a fan of Chicago’s basketball and baseball teams than as a racing aficionado.
“Fortunately, we got Jimmie to agree not to do any burnouts or tear up my back yard. ”I also suggested to Jimmie that, in exchange for free parking, he should let me take “the 48″ out for a few laps, referring to Johnson’s car. He said that was fine — but Secret Service didn’t think it was fine.”
Obama praised Johnson and the other NASCAR drivers for their charity work. Among those attending was Richard Petty, a retired NASCAR legend known as “The King,” whom Obama noted was “sitting right in the front row, where he belongs.”
Wounded soldiers from Walter Reed Army Medical Center attended the ceremony, as did children from the “Victory Junction Gang Camp,” a camp for terminally or chronically ill children in North Carolina supported by NASCAR’s Petty racing family.
Photo credits: U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and NASCAR 2008 Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson stand beside Johnson’s car during an event honoring him at the White House in Washington August 19, 2009. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque and NASCAR legends Richard Petty (R) and Darrell Waltrip (L) attend an event honoring NASCAR 2008 Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson at the White House in Washington August 19, 2009. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
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