Rumsfeld Named Grand Marshal Of Pepsi 400
POSTED: 6:58 pm EDT June 30, 2005
UPDATED: 7:30 pm EDT June 30, 2005
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Instead of commanding troops, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld will command drivers this weekend.
Rumsfeld has been named the Grand Marshal of this weekend's Pepsi 400.
His duties include delivering the famous command, "Drivers, start your engines," and riding in the pace car to lead the 43 drivers around the track.
Inside: More NASCAR NewsWatch WESH 2 News For Complete Pepsi 400 Coverage
More than 200,000 fans are expected in Daytona Beach for the race, WESH 2 News reported.
Local hotels are booked solid for the Fourth of July weekend.
The race festivities include a fireworks show and performances by stars like Lisa Marie Presley.
Tourism leaders say the races pump $460 million into the local economy.
Officials worry, however, about the threat of rain this weekend. The practice sessions for the Busch drivers and the Nextel drivers were rained out on Thursday. Organizers hoped to try again on Friday. The Busch drivers will hit the track at 8 a.m. and the Nextel Cup drivers are scheduled to get in some practice laps at 9:10 a.m.
The rain didn't keep the fans away. Many huddled under umbrellas and tried to make the best of the situation. WESH 2's NASCAR guru Buddy Pittman tried to keep things under control by hosing down some fans with a soaker gun.
"There's nothing dampening the spirits of a race fan?" Pittman asked one fan.
"Oh, no, no. Nothing does that. This is it. This is racing. Take it with the good and the bad," he said.
"It's better than doing dishes and I'm not doing laundry, so it's OK. This is fine," another said.
If Friday night's Winn-Dixie 250, which is part of the Busch Series, is rained out, it will be run at 11 a.m. Saturday. If the Pepsi 400 is rained out Saturday night, it would be run Sunday morning.
WESH 2 is the place to be for your Pepsi 400 coverage. Join Wendy Chioji, Pat Clarke and Pittman for Race Day Live starting at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Then, if you can't be at the track, watch it live on WESH 2 beginning at 7 p.m.