On This Day: Trisha Yearwood Belts National Anthem at Daytona 500 in 2008

by Katie Maloney
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Thirteen years ago today, country superstar Trisha Yearwood kicks off the Daytona 500 with the National Anthem.

The Daytona 500 is a 500-mile-long NASCAR Cup Series motor race. The annual race is held at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. The first race was held in 1959 and racecar fans have been watching annually ever since.

In 2008, Trisha Yearwood kicked off the day’s events with the National Anthem. Yearwood delivered a flawless performance as USAF Thunderbirds flew overhead and fireworks celebrated the event. Check out Yearwood’s jaw-dropping performance below:

Trisha Yearwood sings National Anthem at Daytona 500 in 2008.

How Did The Pandemic Affect Daytona 500 This Year?

Daytona 500 fans have grown accustomed to a packed stadium and pre-race pageantry. However, this year was a bit different. Usually, as a pre-race ritual, each driver is introduced by their row with dramatic music, smoke bombs and fireworks. The drivers walk across a long stage surrounded by cheering fans. Then the drivers hop into a pick-up truck for a celebration lap.

During an interview, track president Chip Wile said that he had to get a little creative this year when planning events for Daytona 500.

“The drivers will get loaded into trucks at their motorhomes. They’ll never actually go out of the bubble,” said Wile. “They’ll go through a path where they come out of a gate and go out onto the racetrack, and there’ll be a presentation there, and then they’ll walk down pit road.”

Keeping Traditions While Keeping People Safe

The National Anthem performance was a bit different as well. Technical Sgt. Sam Allen, USAF, Joint Base, Anacostia performed the National Anthem. And Luke Combs performed for the pre-race concert. However, fans were not allowed to gather around the stage like in previous years. Instead, the organization moved the stage so that fans could watch the concert from a distance.

“The pre-race concert where we’re used to seeing tens of thousands of fans on the ballfield, they won’t be there, but we’ve moved the stage so that Luke Combs is playing to the venue versus playing to the ball field,” said Wile.

Wile said that he wanted to be able to keep the Daytona 500 traditions he knows fans love while also keeping everyone safe.

“Just things like that where we know these are important parts of the tradition of the Daytona 500. We don’t want to lose them but recognize we’ve got to do it a little differently. We’ve worked hand-in-hand with John Bobo (NASCAR vice president of racing operations) and that team to ensure everybody is on board and we are doing it safely,” said Wile.

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