Democrats vs. NASCAR

A Minnesota congresswoman wants to save money by scrapping the Pentagon's sponsorship of NASCAR. Smart idea or political suicide?

The U.S. Army has sponsored NASCAR for a decade, spending $7 million in 2010 and $11.6 million in 2009.
(Image credit: Getty)

With House Republicans in a "frenzy to cut federal spending," one Democrat is pushing her own controversial spending cut: NASCAR. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) has proposed cutting funding for the Defense Department's motor-sports marketing enterprise, and has the apparent support of at least one other House Dem. The move would sever a decade-long relationship between NASCAR and the U.S. military that cost $7 million in 2010 and $11.6 million in 2009. "We're in a fiscal crisis," says McCollum's chief of staff, Bill Harper, calling the military's sponsorship of race cars a "waste of money." Is it really?

No, America needs NASCAR: Racing fans "are the kind of people who fight America's wars," says Ramsey Poston with NASCAR corporate communications, as quoted in The Atlantic. Given that one in three service members are fans of NASCAR, it makes total sense that the Pentagon would renew this partnership. It's a great recruiting tool.

"Will Democrats force the Army out of NASCAR?"

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It's not an effective recruitment tool: "Give me one example of someone today in Iraq or Afghanistan who saw the Go Army car going around the race track and that's why they joined the Army," says Harper, as quoted in the The Virginian-Pilot. Ads on stock cars might help convince people to go to the Home Depot, but not to a war zone.

"Lawmaker seeks ban of military NASCAR sponsors"

Perhaps, but the sponsorship is politically savvy: While Harper makes some "fair" points about whether NASCAR is really the best use of federal money, cutting the funding is not worth the political losses, says Evan McMorris-Santoro at Talking Points Memo. "The battle between NASCAR and a left-leaning congresswoman is about as tailor-made for Republican campaign ads" as it gets.

"NASCAR Star Rallying Fans To Protect Army Sponsorship"

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