Simon Pagenaud Visits the White House
After his Indy 500 win over a week ago, Simon Pagenaud woke up one morning with an invitation to meet the POTUS and visit the White House. Pagenaud accepted the invitation and met the President for the first time this past Monday. He was excited to have such honorable recognition for his sport.
A Tour of the White House and Meeting the POTUS
“To me, when the president of the biggest country in the world invites you to reward you for sports achievements, I think all politics aside, you say yes,” Pagenaud said. “Because it’s a recognition of your work, it’s a recognition of the hard work that was behind it. It’s very symbolic. It’s something that you can’t say no to, in my opinion. I think because it’s sports, you have to put aside any political views. It had nothing to do with politics.”
During his visit, not only did Pagenaud get to meet the president, but he also got a private tour of the white house. He was impressed by the art and the decor, but Pagenaud was also mesmerized by the behind-the-scenes rooms that he got to see. “Rooms where you can’t take your cellphone, so I can’t describe that too much,” Pagenaud said. “That was just, honestly, incredible to experience that, and it’s something that I’ll always have engraved in my memory.”
Pagenaud’s French Roots
The talented racing driver is originally from France and has lived in the US for so long (since the mid-2000s) that he says he’s now ‘Americanized’: “It’s a difficult subject for me because I still feel like my French roots are very strong,” he said. “But in the meantime, America has welcomed me with such open arms that I feel Americanized. And when you read articles or you hear people talk about me everywhere in France, they say I’m Americanized — they say I’m the ‘French American.’ I’ve adopted your culture so much. My future wife is American, she’s from San Diego. I talk English 80 percent of the time. And my way of thinking is more American than French now. So I am Americanized. I can’t deny it.”
What’s Next for Simon Pagenaud?
He mentioned that the French federation was working on arranging a meeting between him and the French President Emmanuel Macron. Similarly, to his meeting with Trump, he says he’d be happy to meet with the French President. Pagenaud has a huge influence on young French racing fans out there, and he feels that meeting with people like Trump and Macron is something that motivates these young fans and helps them take the next step into racing.
Other than winning races and breaking records, Pagenaud is also actively working on his company and personal brand. He has endorsements from both a clothing company and a watch company, but he’s planning on adding to that list soon. In 2018 he also partnered with America’s first jeweler, BIXLER and released an exclusive jewelry collection designed and inspired by Simon Pagenaud. He spends most of his time either training, working on potential new business ventures, or promoting the Indy 500. “I think as an ambassador of the Indy 500, I really want to push it further,” Pagenaud said. “I want to push it to other countries. I want to make sure the race is recognized as it is. It’s the biggest race in the world. It should be talked about everywhere.”
Read more about Simon Pagenaud’s Indianapolis 500 win.