Richard B. Cheney photo

Interview of the Vice President by Winston Kelley, Motor Racing Network

July 01, 2006

Daytona International Speedway

Daytona Beach, Florida

8:36 P.M. EDT

Q: It's a complete honor to have Vice President Cheney with us. I understand it's your first NASCAR race. Tell us a little bit about your impressions.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, it's tremendous. I've watched it on TV, of course, but this is the first time I've actually been down here at Daytona, and it is just an awesome event. The people, the cars, the drivers, everything that goes with it, it's just tremendously impressive sort of operation. So I spent a couple of hours before the race going around -- Darrell Waltrip and so forth, people showing me some of the ins and outs of the sport, it's really a tremendously -- great day for me to spend an afternoon.

Q: Tell us a little bit about some of the experiences that you did have in the garage area.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, they took me down to their mock-up of both the engine, as well as the car, the cut-away so they can get right down and show you how it's all put together. One of the things I did, I spent some time with the Army team. And they were explaining to me the fact, of course, that they've really got different cars for different races. So it's not just a matter of putting a couple cars out and running them all year long. The circumstances are so different and the technology has gotten so refined, the fact that a team has got 18 or 20 cars, not just two, was a revelation to me.

Q: You mentioned in your pre-race introduction about being Independence Day weekend. You mentioned the Army team. And you're probably aware that every single branch of the service is involved in NASCAR racing, including the Marines, the Coast Guard, the Air Force, the Navy and the Army, as you had mentioned. Were you surprised at how supportive the NASCAR community and NASCAR fans are for our troops? This place is always so supportive of our troops.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I know they are. I was aware of the extent to which the drivers, for example, the crews and the owners have been supporting the troops. A lot of them have been to Iraq and Afghanistan, actually visited with the troops out where they're engaged on our behalf. They also go to Walter Reed and Bethesda when they're in the Washington area and visit with the troops that are back from over there, who've come home wounded. It's a tremendous level of dedication. Of course, NASCAR has got a great following among the young men and women of the United State s military. So it's a mutual admiration society, but it really is something to behold.

Q: Speaking of youngsters, I understand you have three of your grandchildren with you. Tell us about their experience. Were they in awe?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, they're having a heck of a day. The youngest is six; the oldest is 12, three granddaughters. And they've enjoyed every minute of it.

Q: I think one of the things sometimes that surprises people in their first race is just the magnitude, the size of the fans, the size of the crowds, and the overall economic impact. This is a huge economic impact wherever we take this show.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, it is. And I think we've been spending a little bit of time with Bill France up in the suite. He estimated about 150,000 people today probably will come to Daytona to witness this event. It's the complexity in the enterprise, as well, too. When you start looking down at one of these teams, and you look at the driver, of course, and then there's the pit crew, you see out front. But - there's a hundred people on each one of these teams backing up the folks that are out front. That's a big, complex enterprise. If you've got two or three teams -- one owner does -- then you've got 200 or 300 people traveling all over the country -- enormous, complex technology, big investment in money and time, it's a great enterprise.

Q: Well, we normally put our guests on the spot and ask them if they've got a favorite. I'm not going to do that to you. But did you get a chance to meet some of the drivers in that drivers' meeting?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I did. And I went to the drivers' meeting beforehand and had a chance to meet them. And it's a privilege. They are a great bunch of people.

Q: Well, Mr. Vice President, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule -- not just to stop by here, but to come to the Daytona International Speedway, and for all you're doing. Our prayers are with you and the President as you lead the country.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, it's great to be here. Thanks again.

Q: Thank you very much.

END 8:40 P.M. EDT

Richard B. Cheney, Interview of the Vice President by Winston Kelley, Motor Racing Network Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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