Mitt Romney’s return to a NASCAR racetrack was a washout due to heavy rain, denying the Republican presidential nominee the opportunity to announce: “Drivers, start your engines!”
The Federated Auto Parts 400 race at Virginia’s Richmond International Raceway on Saturday was delayed at least three hours, and possibly postponed until Sunday.
It was Romney’s second trip of the year to a stock car race, following his debut visit in which he was had difficulty connecting with race fans.
His participation at the track Saturday, including uttering the famous words that orders the drivers to turn the keys, was expected to cap a two-day campaign flurry for Romney as he seeks to gain momentum in the campaign buildup to the November 6 election.
It was also a bald play at the NASCAR vote, as he seeks to increase his popularity among white males, the demographic he needs to win over in order to counter President Barack Obama’s handy lead among women, blacks and Hispanics.
In the aftermath of the Republican and Democratic conventions, he and Obama are engaging in an all-out blitz of battleground states like Virginia, as well as Colorado, Florida, Iowa and Ohio.
The 400-lap race on the three-quarter-mile (1.2-kilometer) oval is part of the wildly popular NASCAR series, which can sometimes draw hundreds of thousands of spectators to events, and it marked a perfect opportunity to connect with blue-collar voters and middle-class Americans.
Romney did not let the rain prevent him from engaging race fans. He served hot dogs, posed for pictures, signed autographs and chatted with attendees for the better part of an hour.